With pregnancy comes many changes in your body. The growing belly is probably the one you knew about, but the sudden difficulty controlling your bladder and urine loss is one that is not talked about as much. Pregnant women and women who have recently given birth often experience urine loss (also known as incontinence). Here’s what you need to know about urine loss and pregnancy.
Pregnancy and childbirth affect the urinary tract and surrounding muscles. In addition to mood changes, sore breasts, nausea, swollen ankles, pregnancy hormones can cause unwanted urine loss. A third of pregnant women are affected by this. Yes, take a good look around during the next pregnancy yoga. You’re not the only one 😉
The chance of losing urine increases during your pregnancy. There are three reasons for this:
- The first is that your uterus takes up more space, so there is less room for your bladder. This causes the muscles with which you hold your pee to become weaker. Most women start experiencing urine loss at twelve weeks of pregnancy. And the bigger your baby gets, the more pressure is put on your bladder and the more your muscles weaken.
- The second reason is because of the increase of the hormone progesterone. This causes your bladder not to close properly. Progesterone causes your muscles to relax, so that your uterine muscle does not push the baby out early. So, if you look at it positively, you’re experiencing urine loss so that your baby is well protected in your womb.
- The weight gain caused by pregnancy puts extra weight on your bladder muscles which makes the muscles weaker. In combination with progesterone which weakens your muscles, this makes urine loss very likely when your pregnant. This can persist after pregnancy.
It can help to drink plenty of water during your pregnancy. Limit coffee and caffeine, because this stimulates the functioning of the kidneys. This causes fluid to leave your body quicker and your bladder to fill up faster. Is the end of your pregnancy in sight? Then it’s possible that you’re not experiencing urine loss, but the loss of amniotic fluid. Amniotic fluid is clear in color and as thin as water, and it’s often slightly pinkish. This is also known as your water breaking. Exciting!
Incontinence can also occur after giving birth. Women who have just given birth often have an overstimulated or weakened bladder and a badly closing urethra. This can be a lingering effect of pregnancy, but it can also be caused by labor and delivery. This is how delivery can cause incontinence:
- A forceps delivery may have caused damage to your pelvic floor muscles
- Your pelvic floor muscles have stretched during labor which can cause them to become weakened. This can make it more difficult to hold your pee.
After a pregnancy and delivery your muscles need time to recover. This usually happens on its own. When your hormones normalise, your muscle tissue will become stronger again. Most women have no urine loss after 6 months.
During and after your pregnancy you can deal with urine loss with a panty liner or pad made specially to absorb urine drops. This is called incontinence material. Incontinence material is thin and breathable, so you have less chance of skin irritation. To prevent skin irritation, it is also good to use 100% organic cotton material like Yoni products for urine loss. During and after your pregnancy it is useful to have extra underwear in your bag, so that you can change if necessary.
Source: Anna Keijsers, pelvic floor physical therapist at DaCosta fysio