Urinary incontinence in pregnancy
You might find yourself going to the bathroom more often than usual when you’re pregnant. Here are reasons why you may have urinary incontinence in pregnancy, and how to prepare yourself when it happens.
What is urinary incontinence?
You’re able to urinate when the muscles around your urethra relax, which allows urine to flow from your bladder and out of your body. When you’re finished, the muscles around your urethra contract, until you’re ready to empty your bladder again. Pregnancy and the weight of your baby on your bladder can interfere with the normal way your urethra relaxes and contracts, which may cause urinary incontinence.
Reasons for incontinence during pregnancy
If you have a family history of incontinence, have a higher body mass index, gain more than the recommended amount of weight during pregnancy, and are over 35 when you get pregnant, you may have a higher chance of experiencing incontinence.
How to manage incontinence
One of the best ways to prevent urinary incontinence is to strengthen and tone the pelvic floor muscle during pregnancy. Here are a few tips to help you cope with incontinence during pregnancy:
- Consult your doctor as they will be able to advise you on the best way to improve your condition based on your symptoms.
- Plan your bathroom breaks. When you’re pregnant, you will have to use the bathroom more often. That may mean scheduling bathroom breaks into your day so you can manage your incontinence.
- Go when you have to go.Go to the bathroom whenever you feel the urge.
- Limit coffee and tea intake, especially at night. Drinks that contain caffeine can make you go to the bathroom more often, so try to avoid drinking them before you go to bed.
- Watch your weight. Studies show that women who gain an excessive amount of weight during pregnancy are more likely to experience urinary incontinence.
- Practice Kegel exercises. These pelvic floor muscle exercises are proven to help with urinary incontinence.
Kegel exercises – what are they and how can they help?
Kegel exercises help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that are used to hold urine in the bladder and can help you control incontinence.
A step-by-step guide on how to perform Kegel exercises
Step 1 – find the pelvic floor muscle. When you are using the bathroom relax your thighs, stomach muscles and buttocks. Then stop yourself from passing urine in midstream, and holding for 10 seconds. Then let go. The muscle you’re using is your pelvic floor muscle.
Step 2 – always make sure you’ve emptied your bladder before starting your exercises.
Step 3 – sit or lie down while doing Kegel exercises.
Step 4 – contract your pelvic floor muscles.Just like you did in Step 1. Hold the contraction for 3 seconds at a time, and then relax.
Step 5 – repeat ten times.
Step 6 – You should always talk to your doctor before doing any exercises, and if you do not see any improvement.
How often should I do Kegel exercises?
Start by doing a few Kegels at a time throughout the day. As your muscles start to feel stronger, gradually increase both the number of Kegels you do each day and the length of time you hold each contraction, up to 10 seconds. Try to work up to two sets of 10 about three times a day, but more than that isn’t a good idea – overdoing it may lead to straining when you urinate or move your bowels.
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