I’m leaking postpartum – how do I stop this??

Leaking postpartum is common, however it is something you definitely don’t have to live with, and here at Total Balance we love helping our postpartum women get back on their feet after their labour.

Growing and giving birth to a baby is without a doubt one of the most fascinating and truly unbelievable things the human body can do. Your blood volume increases by 50%, your uterus can grow from the size of a lemon to the size of a watermelon and you grow an entirely new organ, the placenta!

Along with all of these changes your body becomes host to an array of different hormones one of them being relaxin which is designed to help soften the connective tissues of your body to make it easier for baby to pass through the birth canal at delivery. Unfortunately this hormone does not discriminate on which connective tissues it softens and therefore can have an effect on some of the tissues which make up the pelvic floor.

The softening of these connective tissues combined with the increase in intra abdominal pressure you experience during pregnancy and the extensive stretch of your pelvic floor muscles and the nerves which supply them during delivery, can unfortunately lead to urinary leakage.

For many women, urinary leakage is a common part of their postpartum journey. The below management strategies can help to reduce the amount and frequency of urine leaked over time:

1 – Book in for a pelvic health assessment.

Depending on where you are in your postpartum journey, there are three common reasons you may be leaking urine: your pelvic floor may be weak and needs to be strengthened, your pelvic floor may overactive and needs to learn how to relax, or your pelvic floor does may not know exactly when it needs to turn off leading to ill-timed contractions. By booking in for a pelvic health assessment with one of our pelvic health osteopaths, we can determine if any of the above are a causative factor in your incontinence and can give you exercises to combat each.

2 – Pelvic floor exercises.

From the day you get home from the hospital it is safe for you to start your pelvic floor exercises. For the first few weeks we recommend doing this either sitting on a foam roller or placing your hand over your perineum so that your brain has some tactile feedback for the muscles you are trying to turn on.

In the first few weeks, all we are trying to do is re-build the mind muscle connection between your brain and your pelvic floor muscles to no long holds but instead simply try to turn them on!

For the first 6 weeks this is what we are aiming for:

Week 1 – 10x 1 second holds

Week 2 – 10x 2 second holds

Week 3 – 5-10x 3 second holds

Week 4 – 5-10x 4 second holds

Week 5 5-10x 5 second holds

Week 6 – 5-10x 6 second holds

Aim to perform this 3 times each day.

3 – Avoid drinking bladder irritants

Foods and liquids such as caffeine, carbonated drinks, citrus, alcohol and tomatoes are common bladder irritants, and can lead to bladder spasms which can make it very hard to control your urine.

4 – Avoid constipation

Constipation is one of the top causes of urinary incontinence. Some simple things you can do to help avoid constipation are:

  • Never delay an urge. When you feel the need to go, stop what you are doing and go!
  • Increase your fibre intake
  • Stay hydrated
  • Use a stool softener such as osmolax or movicol
  • Use a stool to elevate your knees above your hips when trying to open your bowels
  • Avoid sitting on the toilet for long periods of time. If nothing has happened after 10 minutes, try again later when you next feel the urge.

5 – Monitor your return to exercise.

In the early weeks following birth, it is super common for postpartum women to want to get back into exercise. You can use the below guide as a return to walking, however we encourage you to listen to your body, and contact your allied health professional if you’re not sure if you’re ready to return to exercise.

  • Week 1: 5 minutes
  • Week 2: 10 minutes
  • Week 3: 15 minutes
  • Week 4: 20 minutes
  • Week 5: 25 minutes
  • Week 6: 30 minutes

Beyond this gentle form of exercise, we always recommend a pelvic floor assessment before returning to any high intensity exercise.

6 – Focus on your breathing

If we are not using our diaphragm properly (the muscle that initiates breathing) when we breathe, our intra abdominal pressure can be thrown off causing increased pressure being placed on our pelvic floor – this can lead to urinary leakage. An easy exercise to help combat this is when you get into bed each night, pop your hands on your ribs and take some breaths. You are aiming to breathe into your hands feeling your ribs expand out to the sides. Then you should feel your back press down into your bed and a small lift of your tummy. Finally a small movement through your chest. Try to do this for one minute.

 

As always, the above is all generalised advice and what works for one mum, may not work for another. If you have any specific questions relating to your own pelvic health, please do not hesitate to call the clinic and have a chat with one of our extensively trained pelvic health osteos. Have a read of our blog here explaining what a 6-week postpartum check up at TBHC involves!

If you have any questions about leaking and the pelvic floor, or any other pelvic health complaints please give the clinic a call on (03) 9773 8085. Alternatively, click here to book an appointment online.

Have a great week!

Sarah & Loz @ Total Balance Healthcare

LET’S GET SOCIAL!!!!

 

This blog post is an educational tool only.  It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.

Phone: (03) 9773 8085

You may also like

Looking to Make an Appointment or Shop Online?

Booking Online is the most convenient way to lock in the clinician & time you want. We also have an Online Store with an amazing range of Osteo & Naturopathy Products.