You thought your peeing problems would be a thing of the past after delivery, but you were wrong. But the good news is that you are absolutely not alone. Urinary incontinence after pregnancy is an inconvenience, and often a painful condition, for women the world over.
Urinary incontinence or leakage, inability to clear your urinary bladder at one go, or the sudden urge to pee, and pain on peeing- all come as a part of the motherhood challenge for most, if not all new mothers.
Don’t be overwhelmed if you too are having peeing problems post childbirth as we are going to slay the top three “pee demons” right here.
Pee demon 1: Spritzing
Your incontinence problems, or spritzing, can continue post-childbirth because a delivery, especially a vaginal one, can weaken your pelvic floor muscles. This further causes an overactive bladder which leads to ‘urge incontinence’, in which you get the sudden urge to pee, even though your bladder may be nearly empty. An overactive bladder can also cause ‘stress incontinence’, in which you leak urine while doing even simple activities, just due to weak muscle.
These bladder control problems occur post-childbirth because of:
Damage to the nerves that control the bladder
Due to an episiotomy, or a cut made in the pelvic floor muscle, during delivery to allow the baby to come out more easily
A vaginal delivery, especially one involving forceps that can injure pelvic nerves and muscles. A study published in Obstetrics and Gynecology has shown that women who had a vaginal birth were more likely to have urinary incontinence a year after childbirth compared to women who had C-sections.
Most cases of spritzing, however, resolve in the first year after childbirth. But, 10 to 20 percent of women report having leakage that they consider “socially bothersome” five years on.
Turning off the faucet
You can try out pelvic floor exercises, also called Kegel exercises, to strengthen your pelvic floor to get rid of leakage.
These exercises, if done properly, can help minimize both ‘stress’ and ‘urge’ incontinence, and can be started right in your hospital bed post- delivery.
Simple surgical procedures can also help you stay dry: like being fitted with a pessary, a small silicone ring that acts as a barrier or a speed bump for the urethra or the pee opening if your leakage is persistent. All you have to do is place it inside the vagina in the morning and remove it at night to stem the leakage.
There’s also the “Bladder sling” surgery, which has a 90 percent success rate for preventing leakage. Get it done only if you aren’t planning any future pregnancies.
If you are really bothered about the spritzing, just ask your doctor for help. Don’t let your bladder rule your life.
When should you see a doctor about pee problems?
If you have been having bladder problems six weeks after delivery, you should talk to your doctor ASAP as this can be due to another medical condition that can cause long-term harm.
Pee demon 2: Urinary retention
Difficulty passing urine is the second common pee problem that you can experience postpartum. It’s found a lot on the first day or two following childbirth, but it usually goes away on its own.
A small number of women (1 in 500) are still not able to pass urine normally and suffer from the discomfort of a full bladder after childbirth and they can seek medical advice and intervention for succour.
Pee demon 3: Vaginal tears and the pain of peeing
About 90 % women experience tears to some extent during childbirth, especially in the perineum, the area between the vaginal opening and the anus.
These tears are described in ‘degrees’ according to their size and effect. Fourth-degree tears cause the most pain and discomfort as these are the deepest and take the longest to heal.
They also need extensive stitching and cause swelling and pain in the area between your vagina and anus. Predictably, they also make peeing and pooping extremely painful due to the stitches, swelling and tenderness.
What can you do to stem the pain?
-Keep your vaginal area clean. Have a warm bath or a shower at least once a day and change your sanitary pads regularly.
-Keep a spitz bottle topped up with warm water handy whenever you go to the toilet to pee. Pour a gentle stream of water to dilute the urine so that your vagina and the perineum do not sting. Wash up using this water and avoid rubbing the area clean with a napkin. Just pat dry.
-You can also urinate in the shower to stem the pain. Just don’t tell your partner about it.
-Drink at least 2–3 litres of water every day and eat a healthy balanced diet with enough fruit, vegetables, and fibre to improve constipation as you will have less pain down-there if your bowels open regularly.
-You can use a folded sanitary pad pressed against the vagina whilst having a bowel movement for a feeling of support and avoid tearing your stitches.
-Wipe front to back after pooping to make sure your stitches remain clean.
-Use an ice-pack on the affected area to relieve pain.
-Also, start with the Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscle to increase the circulation of blood to the area and aid the healing process.
Recovery from a fourth-degree vaginal tear takes time and can lead to anal incontinence in which some stool can leak out.
But, the good thing is that most of these pee demons do get slain by time, healing and some tender loving care. We know it is easier said than done, being a mom. And women’s self-care often comes last. However, try to listen to your body after childbrith. Know that it is vulnerable. Stay in touch with communities of women, and also with your doctor. You will feel better soon.