Ever cough, sneeze, laugh, do jumping jacks or lift something heavy after having a baby? How’d that go for you?
Certain physical movements like those can increase intra-abdominal pressure and can cause a little pee to happen. This is called stress incontinence and it affects twice as many women than men.
The term “stress” is used because the urine leakage happens when stress is put on the abdomen which then pushes on the bladder, not because you are feeling stressed emotionally.
I understand it can be a shock or even embarrassing, but don’t let it stop you from enjoying daily activities.
Before continuing, let’s also point out that you can seek tons of help from a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist and other healthcare professionals specifically trained in this area.
What’s the cause you ask?
The direct cause is a weak pelvic floor, poor urethral support and weak urethral sphincter muscles which may happen with pregnancy and childbirth.
The pelvic floor consists of muscles at the base of your abdomen that attach to the pelvis. The sphincter muscles also need to be able to tighten enough to hold in the urine.
For the purposes of this article, I am going to focus on the pelvic floor.
Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles is a great place to start and does require some focus and practice for most. It may seem weird to exercise a muscle that you cant see or touch.
Don’t worry, keep reading and I will give you some key insight on how you can create the focus and mind-body connection. You’ll be peeing the alphabet song in no time!
Other contributing factors:
There may be some issues contributing to stress incontinence other than pregnancy and childbirth. These include :
Smoker’s Cough: Smoker’s can develop a chronic cough and we know that coughing puts added pressure on the urinary sphincter causing leakage.
Excess body fat: The excess body fat increases pressure on the bladder.
Other chronic diseases: Kidney disease and diabetes to name a few.
High Impact activities : This is listed because of the quick movements and resulting pressure on the abdomen.
I try to give you as much real life experience as possible so you know it’s not just you. I asked some moms if they would like to share their experiences. By the way, anything you go through please know it’s never just you.
Straight from moms:
I interviewed several moms and they wanted to share the below information with you
- Waiting far too long to seek help was a problem
- Coping with pads and dark clothing was helpful
- Avoid the triggers, but for anyone that’s tried to hold in a cough or sneeze you know that’s not happening
- Some were embarrassed
- Some were anxious and worried not knowing when it might happen
- Many carried backup underwear and pads
- Most found relief from treatment in various timeframes
Let’s Fix It
I love to laugh, I have a very loud laugh when I get going lol. I wouldn’t want to stifle it out of fear of having an accident and I don’t want you to either. Let’s get into some solutions you can try to start feeling better soon.
Stress incontinence can often be treated effectively and naturally without medications or surgery.
Common thread to treatment
These moms each had something else in common. They got through it by exercising their pelvic floor. There was no set time frame.
Some took longer than others with 4-6 weeks to 3 months being the range.
Also, some moms had trouble making the mind body connection and sensing their pelvic floor muscles. If that happens with you, I suggest reaching out to a physical therapist. They can work with you and help you locate and engage your pelvic floor.
3 Starter Exercises
I love that these exercises are prevention and treatment in one. Here is a breakdown of each. Let me know if you have any questions!
Isolation exercises are when you locate a specific muscle group and contract it. You know those muscles you use when you’re peeing and you make yourself stop peeing? Those are the muscles we’re working here. The key is to be able to focus enough to make sure you are not contracting the abdomen, thighs or glutes.
–Pull up the pelvic floor muscles (like stopping the flow of urine)
–Hold it and then release
–Aim for 10 contractions holding for 10 seconds each with a 5 second rest in between
–Let’s set a goal at 10 repetitions
Here’s a tip : practice these quickly as well.
–Lie down comfortably on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor
–Your feet should be about hip’s distance apart
–Place your arms palm facing down and by your sides
–Contract your glutes and pelvic floor muscles first and then focus on those muscles as you lift your butt up off the floor
–Hold it for 3 to 10 seconds depending on your level
–Release the muscle contractions as you bring your butt back down to the starting position
–Shoot for 3 sets of 10 reps
3. Split Table Top
–Lie down on your back and bring your knees up so that your shins are parallel to the floor
–slowly part the knees outward until the legs fall into a comfortable position
–slowly bring these knees back to starting position
–Shoot for 3 sets of 10 reps
Remember that excess body fat can increase pressure on the bladder. If weight loss helps you, add in some of the exercises we just reviewed as part of your fitness regimen.
Majority of cases are fixed with proper exercise technique, but there are other options you can discuss with your healthcare provider. Of course always consult with your physician if you need assistance. Knowing that there are effective treatments should give you hope.
Don’t wait! Get back to enjoying those daily activities, you got this!
What do you think?
Whether you’re preventing or treating these exercises can help you. Again, give these exercises a shot and let me know if you have any questions. Please share this article so we can help other moms and get them back to laughing out loud without worry!
Thanks for hanging out with me!