2. Kegel Exercises
When you are physically able, practicing kegel exercises on a daily basis can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. You can perform pelvic floor exercises by squeezing your pelvic muscles and holding for about 10 seconds. You can even get a personal trainer for your pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor physical therapists have specialty training on pelvic floor disorders, especially prenatal and postpartum. If you are interested in pelvic floor muscle training with a pelvic floor physical therapist, the APTA is a great resource.
3. Lifestyle Changes
There are many small changes that you can make to your daily routine to relieve unwanted stress on the bladder.
Clean up your diet. Eat healthy fruits and vegetables that are full of fiber. Avoid triggers such as coffee, caffeine, spicy foods, and refined sugar.
Stay hydrated. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to avoid urinary tract infections (UTIs) and dehydration.
Keep weight within a healthy normal. We aren’t suggesting you lose all of your baby weight right after you give birth, but trying to return to a healthy weight, whatever that may look like for you, is another way to relieve pressure on the bladder.
Limit abdominal pressure. By limiting pressure on your abdomen, you can also limit the pressure that is on your bladder. This can decrease the amount of “stress” on the bladder which can help prevent leakage.
Avoid nicotine. Nicotine directly affects the muscles and lining of the bladder, and chronic coughing from smoking cigarettes can cause increased stress on the bladder and can prolong the prevalence of incontinence symptoms.
4. Timed Voiding
Typically, using the restroom every 2 to 3 hours is considered normal. If you have to go frequently, you can try bladder training techniques to gain back proper function of your bladder. Use the bathroom every 30 minutes to an hour then try to extend the amount of time between urination each day. Emptying your bladder prior to activities, including exercise, can help limit leakage, as well.
5. See Your Healthcare Provider
If you have incontinence symptoms, speak with your doctor to rule out more serious conditions and causes to help develop an effective treatment plan. For example, you may have urge incontinence or overactive bladder, where you fail to fully void your urine, instead of stress incontinence. Seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist can also be beneficial to regaining strength in your pelvic floor muscles.
6. Medication and Devices
You may need temporary assistance from incontinence medication or support devices to help relax your bladder and control urine flow. Some devices such as a pessary can be placed in the vagina to support the bladder and rectum and help the bladder fully empty. This device can also be used to treat pelvic organ prolapse. Other devices like bladder slings may also be surgically inserted to treat incontinence symptoms.
In the meantime, try not to worry about a little loss of urine. With protective incontinence products, you can continue to enjoy bonding with your baby. After you’ve fully recovered from giving birth, speak with your healthcare provider about your urinary incontinence and begin taking the steps to regain control of your bladder.