being a mom
Congratulations on Your Baby! Welcome to Peeing Yourself for the Rest of Your Life
Gather round, friends, while I tell you a tale of urinary incontinence. I’ve had two normal, healthy pregnancies, and two vaginal births. A couple of years ago, we got one of those big trampolines for the backyard. You know the ones, right? It’s like 20 feet across, has a giant net around it, it’s legit. Anywho, my daughter asked me to jump with her. Sure thing, that sounds fun! Now, let me preface this by saying that while I routinely peed myself a little during both my pregnancies, my pelvic muscles had done a decent job of keeping me dry after childbirth. So I had no qualms about jumping on the trampoline. Upon reflection, mistakes were made.
It took one jump, JUST ONE, before my muscles were like, fuuuuuuuuuck this, and released urine all over my pants. Not a spurt. Not a dribble. One jump and I was soaked. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so I did both while I hosed off the trampoline and tried to explain to my kid why mom just pissed herself. Good times.
Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it), I am not alone. Moms everywhere have their own urinary incontinence stories. It’s so common after pregnancy and childbirth!
Women who delivered vaginally are more susceptible, but even c-section mamas suffer from the squirts. According toÂ Roger Goldberg, M.D., director of urogynecology research at the University of Chicago NorthShore University HealthSystem, even a completely normal pregnancy can result in some degree of urinary incontinence for up to 50% of women. Most cases of UC resolve within a year after childbirth. But some women will deal with this for years, or even their entire lives.
There are two kinds of urinary incontinence that affect women after pregnancy and childbirth.
Stress incontinence is when you pee when you laugh, sneeze, run, exercise, or (ahem) jump. Stress incontinence is common in the third trimester of pregnancy, because of the pressure and weight of your uterus on your bladder. Additionally, the hormones that make your joints and tissues more elastic in order to push a baby out of your vag also weaken your bladder support.
Urge incontinence is caused by an overactive bladder. This is when you are struck by the sudden urge to pee, even if your bladder is nearly empty, and leak before you can make it to the toilet.
So are you doomed to leak forever? Not exactly.
There is some good news if you suffer from urinary incontinence! Kegel exercises have been shown to help manage both forms of incontinence. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles will help you hold your pee in, so it doesn’t leak out when you move positions or cough. They’re easy and you can do them anywhere, at any time. I’m doing them right now, in fact!
If your leaking happens more frequently, you may want to talk to your doctor about being fitted with a pessary. It’s a small silicone ring that sort of acts like a speed bump for the urethra. It goes inside your vagina, and can be worn all day. It’s a good option for very active women, like runners or athletes. Or if you have a trampoline. Just sayin’.
Finally, if urinary incontinence is negatively impacting your daily life, you may want to consider surgery. Bladder sling surgery has about a 90% success rate in ending stress incontinence. But, here’s the kicker: this is only an option of you’re done having kids. If you are, and you find you have to wear a pad or your daily life is ruled by your bladder, this might be the solution you’ve been waiting for.
Look, we’re all friends here, right? If we can’t talk about a little pee amongst ourselves, then what’s the point?
The bottom line is, yes, you will probably have some form and degree of urinary incontinence after you have kids. But you don’t have to suffer alone, and it doesn’t have to be forever.