This week The Mummy MOT which is a postnatal check for all mothers after they have had a baby is looking at urinary incontinence AKA leaking urine. This could be happening when you cough, sneeze, lift or when you are on your way to the toilet. It can be very common following childbirth however it is not normal and should not be normalised!
The statistics for Irish mothers from the recent Maternal health and Maternal morbidity in Ireland (MAMMI) study found that one in two women leaked some amount of urine three months after giving birth. The study also found that one in five women in the study leaked urine at least once per month one year after their first baby’s birth. Although, having a C-section has been shown to reduce the chances of experiencing leaking urine however it does not prevent it from occurring completely.
Urinary incontinence is a health problem. Women often feel embarrassed or ashamed about leaking urine and start to make changes to their lifestyle. They reduce or stop exercising which affects their physical health. They may avoid going out or socialising as they may leak in public. Urinary incontinence is one of the five strongest predictors for post-natal depression therefore it is also a mental health problem.
What can be done to improve or even stop urinary incontinence? Injured muscles don’t regain optimum function and sensation unless it is actively exercised or rehabilitated. Like all muscles the pelvic floor muscles can be exercised and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles has been shown to help urinary incontinence. They are simple exercises that can be taught before, during or after pregnancy to prevent leaking urine. Pelvic floor muscle exercises are one part of the wider treatment plan for leaking urine. It is important that your diaphragm, stomach, hip and lower back muscles are also strong and functioning optimally to stay continent.
It’s never too late and pelvic floor muscles don’t get stronger without attention and specific strengthening. As part of your Mummy MOT we specifically assess the pelvic floor to ensure it is functioning optimally following the birth of baby.