Is Incontinence Normal After Pregnancy?

If you have problems with urinary control after you’ve given birth, you’re not alone. Up to 50% of American moms experience urinary incontinence after giving birth. Even normal childbirth without complications can result in the loss of bladder control.

Fortunately, most instances of the condition resolve within a year of giving birth, though you may have occasional light leakage, called spritzing, for up to five years. However, not every case of postpartum urinary incontinence is the same. In this blog, the urogynecologists at Southeast Urogyn explain why you may be experiencing urinary incontinence after giving birth. 

Origins of incontinence

It’s normal during the last trimester of pregnancy to experience stress incontinence. This is the involuntary leakage of urine that can result from the pressure your baby puts on your bladder. The downward force overwhelms the urinary sphincter and urine can escape.

You may also suffer incontinence during pregnancy due to an overactive bladder, which is caused by uncontrolled muscle spasms and not related to how much urine is in your bladder. This is called urge incontinence.

Incontinence after birth

Pregnancy and birth place enormous physical strains on the body. Because of this, you may need a period of recovery. This period can vary from woman to woman.

There’s a hormonal reason for urinary incontinence, since your body prepares for the birth process by increasing the elasticity of your joints and tissues. This process can compromise bladder support, which can result in incontinence issues that carry over after birth as hormone levels rebalance and your body recovers.

Your pelvic floor muscles can be severely weakened by the stretching they endure during childbirth, and this can contribute to an overactive bladder. Nerves controlling the bladder may be damaged, and your bladder and urethra may not be in the same place as they were prior to pregnancy. If you’ve had an episiotomy, this may also contribute to urinary issues.

Excess weight acquired during pregnancy can also contribute to urinary incontinence, so you may see fewer issues as you lose weight. And if you’re having a child and you’re over age 35, you may be more prone to incontinence problems due to the changes in your body from aging.

Complications of vaginal delivery

You’re more likely to have postpartum urinary incontinence if you deliver a child vaginally rather than through a Caesarean section. And interventions, such as a forceps delivery, can increase the risk even more. However, some women are genetically predisposed to urinary incontinence, so choosing a Caesarean section won’t guarantee you’ll bypass the issue.

There are a wide range of ways to treat postpartum urinary incontinence, both at the office and at home. The urogynecologists at Southeast Urogyn can guide you through the conservative therapies that can typically restore urinary control. And if the issue persists, they can recommend more aggressive treatments, including surgery. To learn more, book an appointment over the phone today.

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