Looking back, I can’t believe all the times when people could have told me, but didn’t. My other mom friends could have told me when I shared with them that I was expecting my first. Someone might have warned me at my baby shower. My Mom and sister might have mentioned it when we had our countless discussions about what to expect with my new baby. Sure, everyone warned me about the sleepless nights, the sore nipples, the endless diaper changes and spit ups. But never once did anyone tell me that they had experienced bladder leaks after they gave birth.
That fun fact I was left to find out on my own, even though now, months later, all of them admitted to having the leaks when I asked. I guess it makes sense – after all, things do get rather stretched out after you pop out a kid. I just didn’t expect it. I didn’t expect the trickle when I would stand up after a feeding, the small (sometimes big!) leaks I’d have when I went out for a brisk walk, or the urgent need to go to the bathroom at any random time – even when I had just gone.
I mentioned the leaks to my doctor at my 6 week check up. He was supportive, saying that it was common, but said they would likely go away with time, and that if they didn’t there were things we could do. When I got home, I started googling. I found that I am definitely not alone in having bladder leaks after having a baby. And, surprisingly, I found that the US is woefully behind when it comes to treating them.
French women (and some other European countries) are regularly prescribed physical therapy to re-educate their pelvic floor, something that is rarely talked about in the US. (Who even knew that such physical therapists existed?) After a bit more research, I found one in my area and made an appointment.
For anyone considering this route, it’s important to warn you that physical therapy consists of a physical examination, and potentially some biofeedback therapy, where the PT will measure the strength of your pelvic floor by having you perform short contractions. It’s not painful, but may feel slightly uncomfortable for some. Seeing as how I just had an army of people delivering my baby a few weeks prior, it was no big deal for me.
I think what I liked most about my session was the education. My PT actually spent a good 20 minutes talking through how my pelvic floor worked, how strengthening it would increase my ability to prevent leaks, and different moves to get myself back to ground zero. And then, she showed me how to do them and made sure I was doing them correctly. It was like going to a private workout session with a physical trainer, except she was teaching me how to train my pelvic floor.
All in all, I saw her 8 times over the course of about 6 weeks. She prescribed different sets of workouts to improve my strength (really just very small strengthening moves – nothing to get worked up about, although it’s important to be consistent with them). Slowly but surely, I began to regain control of my bladder. Surprisingly, I also tightened my core a bit and some of the back pain I felt after birth went away. A huge win in my book.
So, if you’re a new mom and experiencing any type of bladder leaks, my recommendation is to go see a physical therapist. She’ll help you get control of any leaks you have, and will be able to keep a pulse on the exercises you’re doing and how you’re improving week to week – something that’s hard to do on your own.
Oh, and for god sake, talk to your friends about bladder leaks! I sure wish mine had!