Incontinence in Pregnancy
Controlling your bladder during pregnancy can be very challenging. With urine leaking at every turn, you may think twice before you cough, sneeze or even laugh.
Urinary incontinence during pregnancy is a fairly common condition and is not something that a woman should lose sleep over. It can be annoying, uncomfortable and even embarrassing but is normal and in most cases temporary. However, do make sure that you are only leaking urine. In some cases, women leak amniotic fluid; in which case it must be brought to the attention of your physician. It is easy enough distinguishing urine from amniotic fluid from just the smell. Urine is characterized by a strong smell of ammonia where as amniotic fluid is mostly colorless and odorless.
What causes urinary incontinence during pregnancy
The pressure exerted on your bladder by your growing uterus, gives you less room to store your urine. This causes a pregnant woman to have the urge to urinate frequently. Additionally, the uterus also exerts pressure on the pelvic floor muscles which are used in controlling your bladder. As these pelvic floor muscles are weakened during pregnancy, some women experience urinary incontinence. In fact, for some women, the urinary incontinence continues well past pregnancy as pregnancy complications can even damage the nerves responsible for bladder control. Women that have had episiotomies during childbirth are at greater risk for urinary incontinence after pregnancy.
Can urinary incontinence be prevented
Many studies have shown that pelvic floor muscle exercises can help pregnant women prevent and treat urinary incontinence. These exercises are preferred to as Kegel’s exercises and are used to maintain a woman’s pelvic floor muscle strength during pregnancy. Consult your doctor on how exactly to perform this exercise effectively.
Keeping an eye on your weight gain can be helpful in preventing urinary incontinence. The larger you get, the greater the pressure on your bladder which puts you at risk for incontinence. Also emptying your bladder at least once every half an hour will ensure that you don’t get any nasty surprises.
Drink plenty of fluids, at least eight glasses of water a day to prevent dehydration and urinary tract infections that contribute to the loss of bladder control. This can also prevent constipation during pregnancy whereby your bowels exert even more pressure on the bladder weakening it further.
Avoiding coffee, soft drinks and citrus juices can help as they tend to irritate the bladder and make it even harder to control it. If you find yourself in a situation where using the bathroom may not be an option, make sure to cross your legs if you feel a sneeze or cough coming on. Avoid lifting heavy things at all costs as a leak or two will likely follow.
Urinary incontinence affects over 60% of pregnant women. That should help make you feel better! This of course can range from an occasional leak or two to a full-fledged sanitary pad-soaking episode.The truth is that urinary incontinence is par for the course as far as pregnancy is concerned. All a woman can really hope is that it doesn’t last past the pregnancy. So hang in there; for every pregnant woman that does not experience it, there are two that do!