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POST-PARTUM INCONTINENCE: ANOTHER JOY OF MOTHERHOOD

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BY KATE SHEANIN FITNESS & EXERCISE

“Ever since I had my baby…..”

If I had a Poise pad for every time I’ve heard that phrase in my office, I’d have my lifetime supply. The joys of motherhood often bring along with it some less desirable traits such as urinary urgency, frequency, and incontinence.

While pregnancy can cause some of the physical changes that lead to leaking, the symptoms sometimes do not manifest themselves until menopause. Other groups of women who are susceptible include: athletes who run and jump, women with respiratory conditions such as asthma and allergies, as well as women with a history of chronic constipation, obesity, and smokers.

Incontinence Self Help

If you have urinary urgency and/ or frequency-a strong desire to void even when the bladder is not full- I recommend behavioral management. Start by voiding on a set schedule that only slightly challenges your current comfort level. For example, if you void every hour, do some relaxation techniques and use distraction to put it off for one hour and 15 minutes. After sticking to this schedule for a few weeks, up the interval to 1 ½ hour and so on. You may experience more leaking and discomfort in the short term but this will eventually improve.

You should also avoid bladder-irritating foods, beverages, medications, and supplements. Lastly, keep in mind that scar tissue, muscular trigger points, and some orthopedic conditions may be contributing to the problem and you should seek out a manual physical therapist to treat these issues.

incontinenceUrgency Exercise

Here is my favorite exercise for my clients with urgency:

1. Sit with a rolled up towel or yoga blanket under your pelvic floor muscles. Avoid pressure on the tailbone by sitting up straight. If your muscles are tight, you may experience a stretch sensation that can be uncomfortable, this should lessen a bit every day that you do it.

2. Relax in this position for 15 minutes.

3. You may choose to perform pelvic floor muscle exercises in this position as the pressure on your pelvic floor increases awareness of it.

For stress incontinence, usually leakage that occurs with jumping, laughing, sneezing, and coughing- you may need to retrain your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles, along with ligaments and fascia, form the support for your bladder, uterus, and rectum, but they also rely on a well-functioning inner core (which includes your deep abdominal muscles, deep back muscles, and the diaphragm) to provide an efficient pressure system.