Pregnancy is a beautiful, yet challenging time for women. It can be exhilarating to know that you are carrying something so precious inside of you, but it also brings with it some uncomfortable symptoms. One of these is incontinence during pregnancy. Incontinence can happen in the third trimester, or after birth; both times when your body undergoes significant changes. This article will help answer questions about why this happens and what you can do about it!
What is Incontinence of Urine?
Incontinence is the result of a lack of control over how long you can hold urine when using the bathroom, and instead urinating involuntarily. The significant factors that cause urinary incontinence are usually stress factors, specific illness or sometimes obesity. It is a common condition in both males and females where older people and pregnant women are more vulnerable than others. It can be prevented or reduced by practicing bladder control exercise or Kegel exercises or treated by surgery or pelvic floor muscle training and electrical stimulation. Most medicated treatments show short-term effects and the safety is still unclear.
There are different types of urine incontinence:
- Urge continence occur due to overactive bladder and the sudden loss of urine after an urge for no apparent reason,
- Stress continence which is caused by weak bladder closure that arises when there is an insufficient strength on the pelvic muscles to prevent the flow of urine during intra-abdominal activities like sneezing, coughing or laughing,
- Overflow incontinence due to blockade of the urethra or poor bladder contraction. The person might feel a continuous dribble of urine even when they are not aware of it,
- Functional incontinence that is caused by medication or other health conditions that disables the person to use the bathroom. Disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, strokes, spinal cord injury and multiple sclerosis,
- Excessive urine production (Polyuria) which us the result of excessive fluid drinking and different types of diabetes.
Which Incontinence Pads are the Best?
Using incontinence pads is the most common and convenient way to deal with urinary incontinence in females. No matter what the fabric, or how much urine it is meant to hold, make sure you dispose and replace them as often as possible for hygienic purposes, avoiding skin problems and odours.
There are three major types of incontinence pads:
- Classic rectangular incontinence pads: These pads are like your sanitary pads that should be used with a pouch pant or mesh/net pants. They are made of stay dry fabrics with a waterproof backing. These pads are designed to ensure that the urine is absorbed by the pads and not leak to your skin or through your clothes. These pads are suitable for light to moderate incontinence
- Pull up incontinence pads: These are convenient to use because they can be worn like regular underwear and they are 100% disposable. They have a built-in absorbent pad in a variety of permeable levels. These products are available for discreet/light conditions to moderate and heavy incontinence. They also have a waterproof and breathable back cover that absorbs and lock in the fluid. They often come with a tear-away side for easy removable and a variety of sizes to fit different sizes. Choosing the correct size is imminent for optimum use and replacing them after every 3 hours is a must for hygienic intimate regions.
- All-in-one pads: these are most suitable for people experiencing massive urinal or faecal leakage. They resemble children’s nappy or are also known as adult diapers. They are designed with adhesive tapes in either side to make it easier to use and remove and also to adjust and keep the pads in place. All-in-one pads are also designed with a waterproof and breathable material to prevent leakage. They are convenient because they can be disposed off and there is no requirement for underwear as they are designed to replace them.
How to Prevent Incontinence During Pregnancy
Incontinence during pregnancy is mostly due to the pressure of the bladder as the foetus is growing, changing hormones, UTIs and medical conditions. The best ways to prevent incontinence during pregnancy are:
- Kegel exercises help strengthen the pelvic floor. Practicing them before, during and after pregnancy enables you to enhance the pelvic muscles which you use to hold in urine.
- Eating a high fiber diet prevents constipation which often stresses your pelvic floor.
- Avoid drinking fluids at night. Caffeinated drinks trigger urination frequency and drinking them later in the evening can make you more prone to urine incontinence.
- Maintaining a healthy weight is an essential step to prevent continence during pregnancy. You will be gaining a few pounds but keeping yourself physically active, following a healthy diet and relaxing will avert stress incontinence during pregnancy.
- Keeping tracks of your urine urges this is the first step to bladder training and even though carrying another human inside causes enough stress on the bladder already, jotting down your timings will help you to be aware of your urges and knowing that it is an involuntary urge instead of “a need” will help you cope with incontinence better.
How to Manage Incontinence While Exercising
When you’re pregnant, one of the ways you can best look after your body is to keep active! Avoiding exercises due to incontinence is something you can avoid. In fact, exercising is something which can actually help! Gestational diabetes is also a factor with incontinence, but again, exercising can help here too!
The best strategies for managing incontinence when exercising are:
- Wear dark colored clothes in loose-fitting materials to camouflage urine stains or to hide incontinence pads if you are wearing one.
- Watch the amount of fluid you drink before hitting the gym. Caffeinated drinks such as soda, coffee and tea are best avoided along with alcohol which acts as a diuretic that leads to leakage. Since you still need to hydrate, drink limited amount of water throughout work out session and replenish it after you have reached your comfort place.
- Try a pessary. It is a round object made of silicone, plastic or rubber inserted in the vagina to support your body’s internal structure. It works to prevent leakage, andcan be worn throughout the day and removed at night. It is safe to use for pregnant women too.
- Working on timing can help you with bladder training to lengthen the time between bathroom visits and hold urges.
If urine incontinence is a new thing that occurred due to your pregnancy, continue to follow these simple steps to help you regain control over your pelvic floor and bladder even post-pregnancy so that you can reclaim your healthy lifestyle with your newborn!