When Kegel exercises don't work for post-pregnancy incontinence

Pregnancy comes with a lot of change. Not only are you adding a new person to the family, your body is adapting to support your baby and keep it healthy until its  ready for the outside world. Some of these changes are welcome or expected, and others, like bladder leaks, may come as a surprise.

Most of the time, bladder incontinence has something to do with the pelvic floor muscles—if they are weakened or firing too often, they aren’t properly controlling the bladder, which can lead to leaks and accidents. Some statistics show that virtually all pregnant women experience bladder incontinence of one kind or another because of the changes that take place within the pelvic floor. 

In some cases, bladder incontinence may continue after giving birth. There are a couple of ways that you can manage unwanted leaks as your body readjusts after pregnancy.

What exactly is happening in your body when pregnancy causes bladder leaks? 

Physical stress can cause bladder incontinence 

Pregnant women who have bladder leaks are most likely experiencing stress incontinence. This refers to your body responding to physical stressors, such as laughing, sneezing or lifting a heavy object, which can result in leaks and accidents. 

During pregnancy, a lot of pressure is put on your bladder because of where it’s located. As your baby grows, the uterus not only expands outwards to make room, it also presses on surrounding organs, includingthe bladder. Even with healthy pelvic floor muscles, the added strain of carrying a baby can force out small amounts of urine or make trips to the bathroom more frequent.  

This type of urge incontinence may subside after you give birth, but it may take some time for your body to readjust to post-pregnancy. Pelvic floor muscles also undergo  a big change during birth, and they may become weaker as a result. 

Hormones are another cause of pregnancy-related incontinence, which change drastically during this time. Some of these hormones are responsible for things like bladder control, and as they change, your body’s response will likely change as well. 

Pelvic floor muscles go through a big change during birth.
What can you do about pregnancy incontinence? 

There are a number of ways for you to manage unwanted symptoms of pregnancy incontinence. Kegel exercises are a simple way to strengthen your pelvic muscles before, during and after pregnancy. To perform Kegels, simply squeeze your pelvic floor muscles for a few seconds and release. Repeat 10 times, up to three sets a day.

Another reliable option is to schedule bathroom breaks to ensure you’re not rushing at the last moment or having an accident.

After you’ve given birth, you may find it helpful to time void if you’re experiencing some bladder incontinence. The pelvic muscles that are instrumental in helping your body through the process of giving birth will take some time to recover and adjust to a new normal, and during that time, bladder leaks are not uncommon.

If you find you still need some extra assistance, monitoring your bladder fullness is easy with the DFree, a wearable ultrasound device that sends data straight to your phone. The DFree is about the size of a deck of cards and can be easily tucked into clothing where it’s virtually invisible, but it can make all the difference when managing bladder leaks and incontinence.  

If you have recently given birth and are experiencing weakened bladder muscles, the DFree can track the trends around bathroom visits and bladder fullness to give you control and peace of mind.

Having a new baby is an exciting and tumultuous time, and it’s one that’s full of many exciting changes. If you’re feeling discouraged by newly present bladder incontinence, speak to your doctor and look into which management treatments are best for you.

In many cases, incontinence related to pregnancy is temporary and can be reversed after you give birth. 

Monitoring your bladder fullness is easy with the DFree.