Postpartum issues... let's talk about incontinence.
Incontinence after childbirth.
It is the stuff that no one really talks about...
But it is the stuff that we SHOULD talk about.
The thought for some conjures up a fear of coughing in public and surprise sneezes at the supermarket.
It changes the way we look at running and even trampolines... "You don't go to Jump or Gravity with your toddler without some form of panty-protection! That jumping around will always find a stray trickle" said my friend lol.
I have always been open and honest about all of my experiences, but I just want to add that my blogs aren't meant to scare people, I know that there are people who have absolutely no complications or issues post birth and of course you aren't always going to develop complications. I think I just want to open the dialogue for people to talk about it :)
Honestly, peeing myself was not something that I had ever experienced before... well post-toddler years anyway.
Weirdly I had more incontinence issues after Scarlett (who was born via C section). Although I think that was due to hours of trying to push a big un-diagnosed breech baby out, then not being able to use my stomach muscles for months.
I talked a little about my experience with incontinence after a c section on my snapchat and I had more than 3 people message me and tell me that it was after their c section where they developed the most problems, one even said "I thought I had been lied to because I always thought that it only happened when you gave birth naturally".
After my c section was the first time that I ever bought TENA incontinence pads, and it was weird.
For me, it was a problem mostly when coughing, sneezing or laughing. I developed a persistent chest infection that developed into pleurisy a year after Scarlett was born (while I was already pregnant with River).
It was frustrating, but thankfully I didn't have any embarrassing moments as I wore the thin incontinence liners most of the time.
Sneezing also pushed my bladder to breaking point. Springtime hay fever was a damp few months for myself for sure!
Being married to a comedian had its drawbacks around this time also I have to admit.
My husband had a show at the NZ comedy festival 5 weeks after our first child was born. It was a surreal moment sitting in the audience laughing and peeing my life away in the darkness of the Q theatre Auckland auditorium!
I pissed myself laughing... literally.
Incontinence it seems can be met with embarrassment or acceptance it seems. You can either be worried about how it might impact your life and worry about the stigma or having an accident. Or on the flip side, be at ease with the thought of it... "well I didn't care... I was leaking from every other orifice so you may as well add that one in" my friend stated.
Please don't be embarrassed, it is normal and your body has just performed some impressive stuff! Growing a baby is a pretty momentous achievement XXX
Incontinence during pregnancy
Pregnancy will always put pressure on your bladder as a baby is growing right next to it.
Your muscles that support your bowel and bladder are being stretched by the weight of your growing baby and the pregnancy hormone relaxin mean that your muscles are weakened so leakage may occur.
Incontinence after pregnancy
Is common and can resolve itself fully or it can be problematic for years afterwards.
I can't emphasize enough how common it is.
It is more common after a vaginal birth but it can very much happen after a c section birth (like me).
Does everyone develop problems?
1 in 3 women can develop problems with incontinence, so no, not everyone will have problems, in fact, after the birth of my second child, I developed a whole different issue where I was unable to pee. Honestly, you think you know what's coming, but you really don't sometimes lol.
What can you do?
* Lose weight, get fit... I know... I know... easier said than done, but as little as 10 minutes a day walking can make a difference.
* Get yourself some TENA incontinence pads... or get your friend to go buy them for you.
* Drink more water and avoid caffeine, artificial sweeteners and alcohol. Wait? What!... I know, I know... but cutting down on these a little will help X
* Practice your Kegel exercises. Kegels are when you tighten your vaginal muscles in order to strengthen your pelvic floor to prevent incontinence.
Follow me on snapchat michellebeardnz where I am doing a snap every now and then to remind you.
Check out the video and infographic below too about kegels.
Please remember that this is all normal, I have experienced incontinence and many others have too.