Some experts estimate that as many as half of women experience urinary leaking after giving birth, while others put the number at about one third. Either way, postpartum urinary incontinence is incredibly common — but not often talked about, so it may come as an uncomfortable surprise.
What is urinary incontinence?
If you involuntarily leak a bit of urine sometimes — especially when you laugh or sneeze or do something strenuous — you’re experiencing urinary incontinence. It happens to many women of different ages, but is particularly common after giving birth.
Easy or tough, it doesn’t matter
If your pregnancy and birth were routine or more difficult doesn’t make much difference when it comes to whether or not you’re likely to experience postpartum incontinence. You’re more likely to have some problems with leaking if you deliver your baby vaginally than if you have a C-section.
What causes postpartum urinary incontinence?
Pregnancy and delivery are difficult on the muscles and other soft tissues of your pelvic region, including those responsible for bladder control. Specifically, the muscles around your urethra, which squeeze tighter as your bladder fills under normal conditions, becomes stretched and weakened.
Additionally, during pregnancy, hormones and chemical processes in your body cause your ligaments to become more elastic. Because your muscles are weaker and your ligaments are stretchier, it’s easier for urine to leak out.
How long will this last?
For most women, postpartum urinary incontinence is fairly short-lived. The majority of cases resolve within a year, but a small percentage of women, between 10% and 20%, still have some issues five years after giving birth.
Higher risk of postpartum depression
There’s good reason to seek treatment if your urinary incontinence doesn’t resolve on its own. For example, some studies have found that postpartum depression is more common among women who experience postpartum urinary incontinence.
There are treatment options
If your postpartum urinary incontinence is causing a problem, or not resolving in a timely manner, there are treatment options available. The first line of defence is to do Kegel exercises. Dr. Pourzand can help you learn how to do Kegels properly, if you’re not sure. She will also give you guidance on how many you should do each day to build up strength and flexibility in the muscles of your pelvic floor.
There are other treatments that may be appropriate, depending on numerous factors. One of the reasons so many of her patients prefer Dr. Pourzand is the highly personalized treatment she provides. Before suggesting treatment for your postpartum urinary incontinence, Dr. Pourzand will take your medical history, current medical needs, and your life’s circumstances into consideration.
If you have questions or concerns regarding postpartum urinary stress incontinence, book your appointment with Dr. Pourzand today. We have two locations for your convenience, and you can use our online scheduling tool or call to make an appointment at the location that works best for you.