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8 Secrets You Didn't Know About Incontinence and Pregnancy

Pregnant woman

When you're expecting, your body undergoes tremendous changes. While most are lovely, such as feeling your baby move for the first time, there can be some uncomfortable moments. One such moment is involuntary urine leakage when you cough, laugh, sneeze, exercise, or even lift something.

Once you become pregnant, hormones cause your pelvic floor muscles to stretch and relax. The hormone relaxin also loosens your ligaments, which leads to weaker sphincter muscles and urine being unintentionally released from your bladder. As your baby grows, you may experience more urgent and frequent urination. This feeling is due to the additional pressure on your bladder from the baby. The extra stress on your bladder further weakens the pelvic floor muscles and increases the likelihood of urine leakage.

Involuntary urine leakage during pregnancy is a common occurrence and is known as pregnancy or stress incontinence. For most women, it is mild and infrequent, but for others, it can be severe, especially in the third trimester.

Involuntary leakage while you are pregnant can be annoying and embarrassing, but it is normal and temporary. So what can you do to overcome this short-term inconvenience?

Young pregnant female wearing sunglasses

1. Exercise Those Muscles

Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that control urine flow and can help you avoid leakage. They can be done at any time throughout your day and should become a lifelong habit.

Contract the muscle, hold it while you count to ten, and release. Repeat 10-20 times three times a day for a total of 30-60 contractions per day. Doing these throughout your pregnancy will help to ensure any leakage abates after delivery.

2. Stay Hydrated

Yes, you'll have to go to the bathroom more, but it is more important than ever to stay hydrated while you are pregnant for your health and the health of your growing baby. Drinking lots of water also reduces your risk for urinary tract infections and other bladder irritation. An irritated bladder increases urgency, which is bad news for those suffering from incontinence. If you are dehydrated, your urine will be dark and cloudy and may even have a strong odor, so drink plenty of water, eat lots of fruits and vegetables, and fully empty your bladder to reduce the frequency of trips to the bathroom.

3. Cross Your Legs

Just like small children, cross your legs when you feel the urge to pee. When you are about to sneeze or laugh out loud cross your legs to help hold the urine in place.

4. Monitor Your Weight

Healthy babies need mom to gain weight while she is pregnant. But be careful you aren't overdoing it! Extra pounds place additional pressure on your bladder. Continue to eat a healthy diet and check with your OBGYN about an appropriate weight gain for your body type and pregnancy. Naturally, you'll gain more when you are carrying multiple babies.

5. Avoid Certain Foods

Some foods can cause bladder irritation resulting in leakage. Avoid caffeinated products like coffee, soda, and energy drinks. Citrus foods, and even tomatoes, can also irritate the bladder because they are slightly acidic. So if you find you are urinating more often or are experiencing some leakage, eliminate these foods from your diet to see if things improve.

6. Train Your Bladder

It is possible to train your bladder, especially in the first couple of trimesters. Initially, urinate every 30 minutes or so and gradually increase the length of time between each restroom break. This will help to strengthen your muscles and reduce the possibility of leakage. But don't be surprised if you experience pregnancy incontinence in your third trimester. This is when your baby has a growth spurt and gains weight, placing even more stress on your bladder.

 Pregnant woman touching belly close-up

7. Change Your Exercise Regimen

Loyal runners may experience more urinary incontinence while pregnant than other athletes. Put your running shoes away until after your babys birth. Try walking, swimming, or cycling, which are all gentler on your pelvic floor muscles.

8. Use Incontinence Products

Some women become distressed when experiencing pregnancy incontinence. If you've kept up with your kegel exercises, maintained a healthy weight, and even crossed your legs every time you've had a fit of the giggles but still experience leakage, then it's time to get some help. Urinary incontinence can disrupt your day and even impact your social life and other activities. Use a discreet product like a pad to take back control. Choose one that will wick away moisture from your skin so you don't develop a rash. There is a vast selection of incontinence supplies available for women, from slender pads to super-absorbent panties so that you can go about your day full of confidence.

 

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