There’s something that happens either during pregnancy or after delivery to a lot of women: your bladder doesn’t work like it used to. You leak urine when you sneeze, laugh, engage in physical activity or a million other things. It’s officially called urinary incontinence. It really should be referred to as this is awful. Whatever you want to call it just know you don’t have to live with it.
And there’s a lot of reasons you shouldn’t live with it. Like these:
- Urinary incontinence may be associated with increased mortality rates
- If a woman suffers from urinary incontinence she generally suffers from additional chronic conditions
- Studies have estimated annual cost of incontinence management for an individual at $750
- Urinary incontinence is associated with increased anxiety and depression, decreased physical activity, reduced work productivity and impaired sexual function.
I delivered my first child via cesarean and remained blissfully unaware of urinary incontinence, it wasn’t even a phrase in my vocabulary. However, after delivery of my second child I wasn’t so fortunate. What shocked me then and still does now is that no one had ever talked to me about this side effect of childbirth. NO ONE! Not a doctor, not a nurse, not a close friend, NO ONE.
As I adjusted to being a mom of two and caring for a newborn, I struggled with urinary incontinence. It wasn’t until a few weeks postpartum that I was reading a book about an American woman who marries a Frenchman, lives in France and has a baby in France. She talks in the book about French healthcare which provides 3 weeks of mandatory kegel exercises and care for women who have had a baby. That was when a lightbulb went off in my head. Oh, so I’m not alone, this is a thing that women deal with and in France they offer care.
I headed to my 6 week checkup poised to ask my doctor many questions and demand care. My doctor assured me it was normal and generally cleared up in about 3 months but that she would refer me to a pelvic floor specialist if I wished. “YES” was my response. I was completely unwilling to wait 3 months to see if it cleared up. Six weeks had been more than enough.
Seeing a pelvic floor specialist was life changing for me. I learned a lot about my pelvic floor that I never knew before. I also learned several exercises which helped me to cure my urinary incontinence. Now you’ll see me running, jumping and doing all normal things without issue. It is something I work on everyday because it's important to me and if you are struggling with it, take care of yourself and get help.
There are a lot of resources out there on social media that talk about pelvic floor health and specialists do exist. A friend once told me “you’ll never go to a trampoline park again with your kids and not pee your pants,” but that doesn’t have to be your truth. It isn’t mine.