Babies and Bladders
Every expectant mother has heard jokes about pregnant women running to the bathroom all the time. Overactive bladder is one of the most common symptoms of pregnancy in the first trimester, and it only gets worse as your pregnancy develops. But for some, overactive bladder causes an even more embarrassing symptom: pregnancy incontinence.
What to Know about Pregnancy Incontinence
Pregnancy incontinence, or bladder leakage, gets less press than overactive bladder syndrome (possibly because fewer dads-to-be find it a funny road trip joke), but many pregnant women suffer it. Bladder leakage most frequently occurs when coughing, laughing, sneezing, or straining, but it can happen almost anytime. The good news is that pregnancy incontinence is usually temporary. When your hormone levels go back to normal and your body heals, your bladder should return to normal too.
How to Treat Pregnancy Incontinence
Before trying home remedies, make sure you’re leaking urine. If the liquid is clear and odorless, it may be amniotic fluid. It’s rare, but if you are leaking amniotic fluid, contact your obstetrician immediately.
Okay, you sure it’s urine? Here’s what you can do to treat pregnancy incontinence.
- Do Kegels to strengthen your pelvic muscles.
- Train your bladder to behave by slowly extending the amount of time between trips to void your bladder.
- Monitor your weight. Unnecessary weight gain during pregnancy puts undue pressure on your bladder.
- Try to avoid constipation, which also puts pressure on your bladder.
- Keep drinking water! Limiting your water intake doesn’t minimize pregnancy incontinence, it only dehydrates your body and increases your risk of UTI (another cause of bladder leakage).
- Avoid foods that irritate the bladder such as citrus, tomatoes, coffee, and alcohol (which you shouldn’t be having anyway!).
- Use pads in case of accidental leaks.
- Brace your pelvic muscles before laughing or sneezing by crossing your legs or doing Kegels.
- Pay attention to any patterns. If you notice a specific behavior causes bladder leakage, stop that behavior.
- Talk to your practitioner. Your OB or CNM does this for a living, so you can be sure they have some good tricks for minimizing bladder leakage.
Pregnancy incontinence may be frustrating, but it’s a normal part of pregnancy. If your incontinence lasts up to six weeks postpartum, speak to your physician about treating incontinence before it becomes a long-term issue. For more information on pregnancy incontinence, call Cherokee Women’s Health.