Will I ever get back to working out without leaking?
“Why did I just pee all over myself after exercising?"
”I want to get back in shape after just delivering my baby!"
”Will I ever get back to working out without peeing myself?"
These questions are all too common when we speak to our postpartum patients and their sentiments are completely valid! We’ve some exciting news- YES! You can get back to working out without peeing yourself!
It is critical to know that pregnancy and delivery may affect pelvic floor function, including urinary incontinence.
Particularly, the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles are stretching throughout pregnancy and during labor, which can lead to weakness and incoordination of the muscles. Due to these changes, returning to certain activities and getting around in your new postpartum body may lead to urinary leakage. Overall, the pelvic floor and core musculature may not be functional enough to support activities that increase pressure on the bladder, like running or jumping.
Types of Urinary Incontinence:
Stress Urinary Incontinence:
This is the involuntary loss of urine due to increased pressure on the bladder. This pressure can come from coughing, sneezing, jumping, running, etc. With stress incontinence, the pelvic floor muscles have to be strong enough to withstand increases in pressure.
In the clinic, I notice some clients who may think they have strong pelvic floor muscles, however they are actually over-activating or tightening their muscles and in return, the muscles become weak. It is important to note that your pelvic floor muscles need to be able to fully relax in order to fully contract. Additionally, holding your breath during physical activity also increases pressure on the abdominopelvic system which is another cause of leaking urine- don’t forget to breathe!
This is a sudden urge to urinate and involuntary loss of urine. These urges can be associated with exposure to the cold, running water, walking by a bathroom or putting a key in a lock. Often, the muscles of the bladder contract and relax and result in urinary leakage. Urge incontinence can also be associated with frequent bad bladder habits such as going to the bathroom “just in case”. Doing this a lot can lead to mixed signals with the brain and the bladder thinking that you have to pee even when your bladder isn’t full with urine. Urge incontinence can be associated with urinary frequency or urinary urgency.
This is a combination of stress and urge incontinence mentioned above.
Urinary incontinence after delivering a baby is common, but that doesn’t mean you have to continue to endure this for the rest of your life.
Whatever your activity level was, is or could be, pelvic floor physical therapy can support you in getting to where you want to be. It’s all about baby steps!
If you continue to have persistent incontinence after 6 weeks from delivery, it may be a good idea to get evaluated by a pelvic floor physical therapist in order to educate yourself on your pelvic floor and learn what you can do to exercise without leaking again.
Written by: Dr. Michelle Andoy, PT, DPT,