New and seasoned moms alike are often startled by some of the unpleasant surprises that come along with being pregnant. One of these is urinary incontinence. It happens to many women, but knowing that isn’t the most reassuring thing as you deal with the urine that leaks when you cough, laugh or move.
Urine, Vaginal Discharge or Amniotic Fluid
It’s important to determine that it really is urine that you’re leaking. Occasionally, there is a rupture in the amniotic sac, which can cause the fluid to leak from your vagina. A “sniff test” may be all you need to know that you’re leaking urine, but if you have any concerns at all, you should talk to your doctor. She can perform a test to determine whether it’s urine, amniotic fluid or other vaginal discharge, which also increases during pregnancy.
Why It Happens
As your baby grows inside you, space becomes limited. Your baby is often pressing up against your bladder, which gives less space to hold urine. This is one reason why you have to use the toilet more often when you’re pregnant. Combined with weak pelvic floor muscles, this pressure can cause you to leak urine.
How to Deal
Visiting the bathroom frequently can help the situation, as there will be less in your bladder to leak. However, you may also want to wear a pantyliner to prevent getting your underwear and other clothes wet. Pantyliners and pads designed for urinary incontinence can hold more. If your leakage is severe, use a larger incontinence pad.
Practicing kegel exercises can improve the pelvic floor muscles, which can improve your incontinence. To find the muscles, purposely stop the flow of urine as it passes. Later, you can exercise these muscles by squeezing them. There are also devices that you can purchase to increase resistance as you exercise the muscles, giving you a better workout.
After the Baby
You shouldn’t expect the incontinence to immediately go away after giving birth. In fact, it may actually increase, since the baby passing through the vaginal canal can stretch and weaken the muscles. Many women experience mild incontinence long after childbirth. Continue doing kegel exercises and you will hopefully notice improvement over time. If not, discuss the problem with your doctor.