Is a scary word.
Incontinence is the medical term for unintentional leakage of urine or feces. But many women have difficulty associating this term with themselves. In my discussions with clients, I found that many moms see their bladder accidents a little differently. Like one of my patients joked with a smile:
"I laughed until tears ran down my leg"
But for some, the humor doesn't come so easily. Some women are deeply troubled and concerned regarding this new lack of control:
"I had to go home halfway through my work out. It was so embarrassing."
"I leak a little when I pick the baby up. Sometimes even just getting out of the chair. I can't stop it."
You likely have had a number of other mothers recount to you the (now funny, then-mortifying) stories of just not being able to hold it. They may have told you that, after your little one comes, a bout of laughter or a big sneeze could send you running to the restroom or home for a wardrobe change. Your OB/GYN may have told you this, too. While postpartum leakage and accidents are common and nothing to feel embarrassed about, especially in the weeks immediately following pregnancy, it is not normal to continue to experience this phenomenon in the months after having your baby.
Bladder accidents and—yes, even bowel accidents—are a common problem suffered by women after pregnancy. Although there are different classifications for types of incontinence, one that many women experience is called stress incontinence. Like the name implies, this kind of leakage occurs when stress is placed on the pelvic floor, which can happen during something as simple as laughing, sneezing, standing up from sitting, lifting your baby or during more intense activities such as weight training or running.
You may also begin to experience increased frequency and the urge to urinate more often. You might notice yourself needing to go every half hour, and making sure that you use the restroom “just in case”—before you leave home, when you’re in a store, and wherever you see one, as the fear of leakage and the resulting difficulty.
The good news is that there is something that you can do about it--
Whether it is before or after you have had your baby.