Pregnancy can be a wonderful time in a woman’s life. However, many women suffer from bladder leaks during pregnancy, which can place an added layer of anxiety in an already somewhat stressful time. Luckily, for most women, those bladder leaks will disappear shortly after baby arrives. But in the meantime, what can be done?
Let’s take a look at why bladder leaks happen in the first place.
What is incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is the inability to hold urine in the bladder. There are many types of incontinence – you may feel like you have to empty your bladder, even after you just went. Or, you may find that you leak urine when you’ve placed some sort of stress on your pelvic floor, such as coughing, laughing or sneezing. You may even find that you’re waking up multiple times at night to use the bathroom. Pregnancy is a common cause for urinary incontinence to occur.
How pregnancy affects bladder control.
There are many ways that pregnancy can cause you to have bladder or bowel issues.
Normal hormonal changes.
As your baby grows, your hormones change and can lead to weakened ligaments, frequent urination, or even constipation.
Your bladder sits just just under your uterus. As your baby grows, your uterus expands and can place increasing amounts of pressure on the bladder. This can make it feel as though you have to empty your bladder more often, or may cause leaks when you do something that exerts even more pressure, such as a laugh, cough, or sneeze.
Urinary Tract Infections.
If you’re prone to UTIs, which can cause a leaky bladder, you may experience them even more during pregnancy. UTIs are common in pregnant women since the growing baby can put pressure on the bladder and urinary tract, making it easy for bacteria to get trapped.
If you’re still taking any medications while pregnant, they may be contributing to your bladder leaks. Check with your doctor to see if these medications are necessary, or if there are alternatives you might take during this time.
How To Treat Bladder Leaks During Pregnancy
Exercise that pelvic floor!
The pelvic floor is a web of muscles that supports your bladder, rectum and uterus. Keeping your pelvic floor strong and in shape can help ward off bladder leaks. Kegels are a great way to do this. Aim to do them every day, and even when you place any extra pressure on your pelvic floor (from laughing, coughing, etc.) to prevent potential leaks. (Note: always discuss any workout plans with your doctor first.)
Don’t let yourself get constipated.
Constipation can place increased pressure on the bladder, and may also cause you to strain when having a bowel movement – something that can cause a lot of damage to your pelvic floor. Stay hydrated and eat healthy foods to avoid becoming constipated.
Keep a healthy weight.
A growing fetus can place a lot of pressure on your bladder. While you will naturally gain weight during pregnancy, make sure you are making healthy choices and be careful to stay within the healthy range your doctor advises to avoid putting any additional strain on your bladder.
Avoid bladder irritants.
Certain foods and drinks can irritate the bladder, making leaks more likely. These may be different for everyone, but common triggers are caffeine, sugars or sweeteners, citrus, or spicy foods. Try keeping a bladder diary for a few days – you may start to notice trends of specific foods or drinks that trigger your bladder leaks. (Download a free bladder diary here!)
Use absorbent pads for protection.
Its very common for women to experience bladder leaks here and there when pregnant, especially as you move into the third trimester and your baby is larger. Pick up some adult absorbent pads to help you out during this time. They’ll give you an added peace of mind knowing that you’re protected, and can help catch any leaks if they happen to occur. (Read: Why You Shouldn’t Use A Maxi-Pad For Incontinence)
Got any tips for how you managed bladder leakage during pregnancy? Share them with us in the comments below!