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leaking after having a baby

IS LEAKING AFTER HAVING A BABY NORMAL?

Is leaking after having a baby normal? Postpartum incontinence and what to do about it.

IS LEAKING AFTER HAVING A BABY NORMAL?

Today we wanted to talk to you about leaking after having a baby. Something that is so common. It’s probably the most talked about postpartum problem right? But just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s NORMAL. 

In fact this is one taboo we want to shatter into 1000 pieces… So here goes!

LEAKING IS COMMON, BUT NOT NORMAL

It’s estimated that a third of new mums suffer in silence and are too embarrassed to speak to their friends and family. What’s even more staggering is that 38% of women said they were even too self-conscious to speak a healthcare provider about it*. 

We should 100% not have to suffer in silence and resort to panty liners. 
We should not have to miss out on jumping on a trampoline or skipping with their kids.
Why is it STILL taboo to talk about leaking after having a baby? 

Especially when, most of the time, it is completely curable. After just a few months working with a specialist to give your pelvic floor some TLC, you can see remarkable improvements in your bladder control. 

WHAT CAUSES LOSS OF BLADDER CONTROL POSTPARTUM? 

This particular common postpartum problem is a result of the strain that pregnancy and birth places on your pelvic floor muscles. Your pelvic floor muscles are hugely important and usually underrated: They support all your pelvic organs and play an important role during intercourse. The weight of your growing baby and of course giving birth – whether you had an emergency tummy birth, tummy birth or a vaginal birth – will impact them greatly. The bladder can also be compressed as the uterus shrinks back, making it difficult to hold it in. 

These stretched and damaged tissues don’t just spring back. They need time to heal, for the inflammation to go down, for the neural pathways to strengthen. If there is scar tissue, this can affect the healing process too.

HOW DO YOU HEAL YOUR PELVIC FLOOR?

Every pregnancy, birth and every woman is different. Whilst some women might regain bladder control within a few months, most will need to give their pelvic floor muscles some extra love and it can take up to a year or even more. Being patient, kind and gentle with your body and your healing process is important, and seek help and support from a professional. 

Doing your pelvic floor exercises regularly can dramatically help. Try to build up to 3 x sets of 10 slow endurance holds and 3 x fast holds daily. If you’re unsure on how to do these, check out @helenkeeblephysio for tips and tricks. We also recommend the NHS app squeezy, which is great if you struggle remembering – in fact 90% of users found it helped them perform their exercises more regularly. There are also pelvic floor trainers such as Elvie which some find really beneficial, and the website Pelvic Guru has lots of useful information.

Other habits that can help include trying to extend your times between urinating, making sure you stay hydrated, avoiding caffeinated drinks and eating well.

However if you are doing your exercises regularly and still struggling after 3 months then don’t suffer in silence. That goes for all you older mums too. If you’re still struggling years later – it’s never too late! Yes it might take longer but you can improve your bladder situation. 

PELVIC FLOOR REHAB: ASK FOR HELP

My recommendation is to reach out to your healthcare provider and ask for help. It is possible to get referred to a Women’s Health Specialist through your GP, although unfortunately waiting times can be long. 

There are however an abundance of women’s health physiotherapists that you can go and see privately; they can assess you externally and internally to see how your pelvic floor muscles respond and how strong they are and then devise a program for you.

There is a great service available in the UK called @MummyMOT – find your closest practitioner here. However, if you’re in South East London our go-to person at Planet Mama is the wonderful Sarah Parker Physio.

TALKING ABOUT PELVIC FLOOR HEALTH: LET’S NORMALISE IT

We are blessed with the NHS, however postpartum care is definitely below standard. I mean isn’t it atrocious that only those who can afford to go private can easily get help? Isn’t it appalling that we are encouraged by adverts such as Tena to accept incontinence as the norm and incontinence pads as the inevitable? 

In some countries such as France women are prescribed pelvic physio after having a baby so they can regain control of their bladder. Check out this inciteful Guardian article here. Imagine how much money the NHS would save on prolapse treatments and much more expensive hysterectomies if we did the same? Plus all mum’s quality of life would be so vastly improved. 

So let’s try and make a change by speaking out and not suffering in silence. Get the help and support you need, so that your pelvic floor can support you again! You just brought another human into the world… Potentially the next leader: the next Picasso; the next Frida; the next Greta – that deserves some fricking respect!

Lettie, Founder of Planet Mama x