Many moms experience postpartum incontinence after having babies but is this really a laughing matter?
Coming from personal experience, I think not!
Despite what you may have heard from well meaning friends or even doctors, postpartum incontinence is NOT normal and in most cases, it’s a sign of a very week pelvic floor.
I experienced and endured the grueling frustrations of peeing my pants during both exercise and simply sneezing for far too long before taking it upon myself to get to the bottom of my pesky bladder leakage and fix it.
My hope is that the information I share will save you from having to live with your frustrations as long as I did!
Three babies and three years later, I can confidently exercise and laugh without experiencing bladder leakage. Woohoo!
But this did not come with time.
It came from seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist, doing my own research, and a lot of patience and consistency with exercises like the ones I share in today’s post.
Does Postpartum Incontinence Make You Hate Exercising?
Many moms I’ve worked with have given up some of their favorite exercises, such as running, because of their bladder leakage, myself included.
It is very hard to stay motivated or even excited to workout and shed unwanted baby weight when you know exercise is going to leave you frustrated with pee running down your legs.
Being an athlete my entire life, I could not wait to get the green light from my doctor to start exercising again after the birth of my first baby.
I rushed home from my six week postpartum check-up, laced up my running shoes, and headed out the door for little jog.
Five minutes later, I was back home sobbing because I could not stop the urine from pouring down my legs.
I squeezed, I clenched, tried smaller jogging steps, and even attempted tip-toe jogging but nothing could stop me becoming a wet mess.
I felt broken, defeated, frustrated and angry that I had been “cleared” to exercise but not warned about the poor condition of my pelvic floor.
Because no one pees their pants with confidence, I slowly began losing motivation to exercise then felt discouraged that I may never be able to exercise again.
However, giving up my passion for exercise was not an option so I knew I had to “fix” my weak pelvic floor an leaky bladder.
If I can do it, I know you can too!
What Causes Postpartum Incontinence?
Postpartum Urinary Incontinence: The involuntary leaking of urine that many postpartum moms experience.
It usually occurs while laughing, sneezing, coughing or any strenuous activity.
During pregnancy, the weight of your growing baby along with the softening of your pelvis to prepare for childbirth can weaken the muscles in the pelvis.
Add childbirth, both vaginally or cesarian section, and you really have a recipe for postpartum bladder leakage.
During delivery, all the little muscles and tendons get stretched or even torn as the baby moves through the birth canal.
While this process is natural, being left with life long weakness and dysfunction is NOT normal.
What is The Pelvic Floor?
Think of your pelvic floor as a hammock that supports three female organs: the bladder, the uterus and the rectum.
This “hammock” is designed to have some buoyancy to support and rebound back up like a trampoline.
However, if this hammock is damaged or weakened, like from the extra weight of carrying a baby, it may lose strength and support.
A weakened pelvic floor cannot support these organs well and you many experience postpartum bladder leakage or something called “Pelvic Organ Prolapse”.
Why do I need to Strengthen my pelvic floor?
I like to think of it like this.
If you were to rupture your bicep tendon lifting something heavy, you would likely be sent to physical therapy to rehab your arm.
We need to think of childbirth this same way.
During pregnancy and childbirth, muscles, tendons and ligaments can get very stretched and even torn leading to pelvic pain, chronic back pain, Diastasis Reciti, urinary incontinence and even Pelvic Organ Prolapse.
Taking the time to rehab the core and pelvic floor can prevent long term discomfort and embarrassing side effects such as uncontrollably peeing your pants from pregnancy and childbirth.
How Can I Stop Postpartum Incontinence?
Consistently doing postpartum core and pelvic floor rehabilitation exercises can help reduce or stop postpartum incontinence.
The keyword here is “consistently”!
After the birth of my second, very large, baby, I experience something called “Pelvic Organ Prolapse”.
The combination of incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse made me feel incredibly broken and discouraged.
Coming from a pre-physical therapy background, I knew I could find solutions to my challenges without surgery so I decided to seek help from a pelvic floor physical therapist.
The exercises I share below are the exact exercises I was taught during my pelvic floor physical therapy sessions as well as in my prenatal/postnatal exercise specialist certification.
For those who have tried everything and nothing helps, surgery is definitely an option.
It does not matte how long ago you had babies, these exercises can help you regain control and confidence.
6 Pelvic Floor Exercises To Help Postpartum Incontinence
These exercises are from my own experience with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist after suffering from postpartum incontinence, especially during exercise.
The muscles in my pelvis were so damaged and weak after pregnancy that I was unable to hold a proper Kegel during my first visit!
Remember, we all start somewhere!
It doesn’t matter if you are five weeks, months or years postpartum, keeping our pelvic floor strong is very important. I also strongly encourage these exercises during pregnancy as well.
How To Locate Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
The next time you go to the restroom, notice what it feels like to stop your urine midstream.
Never practice this while actually going to the bathroom. Consistently attempting to stop the flow of urine can lead to infection.
Next, lie down on your back with your knees bent.
Now imagine what it felt like when you are trying to stop your urine.
Engage your core by imagining you are lifting your belly button up toward your chest with your ab muscles.
Squeeze and lift the vaginal area without tightening your buttocks.
Imagine as if you are squeezing someone’s fingers with your vagina and lifting at the same time.
Another way to think of this is to imagine you are drinking something through a straw in your vagina.
Awkward, I know! But this is what it should feel like.
You should have a sense of pulling up or squeezing.
When you have mastered finding your pelvic floor, you can move on to the other exercises!
Has postpartum incontinence stopped you from working out, losing weight and living your healthiest, most confident life?
I hope these exercises can help you start rehabilitating your pelvic floor and getting back to the workouts you love!
Brooke is a certified Prenatal and Postnatal Exercise Specialist with a Bachelors of Science degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science. She is also a mom of 3 girls with more than 15 years of experience in health and fitness. Brooke’s goal at Struggles of a Fit Mom is to help motivate, educate and inspire other busy mamas who struggle with finding time, energy and motivation to take care of themselves in the chaos of motherhood.