SSM Health Medical Minute – Postpartum incontinence and what you can do to help

Medical Minute

ST. LOUIS – Postpartum incontinence is quite common. Women who give birth vaginally are more likely to experience these complications afterward, sometimes only temporarily, other women experience it for a lifetime. Often, the bladder and pelvis muscles are weakened during childbirth.

In addition, the uterus will begin to shrink back to its normal size, which causes repeated compressions on the bladder. Hormones are also a factor and need to be considered as the body rebalances sex hormones after a child is born.

A women’s lifestyle has a lot to do with how she can help. Eating well, avoiding smoking, and staying fit do help with urinary incontinence or leakage issues. Smoking affects the tissue within the organs. Staying fit and keeping the pelvic muscles through Kegel exercises can help to strengthen the pelvic floor.

There are several ways to address your urinary incontinence without drastically altering your day-to-day routine, including:

  • Reduce or completely give up caffeine, carbonated drinks, and alcohol. These beverages, along with spicy foods can cause the bladder to contract much more than what is necessary.
  • Losing some weight will ease the pressure on your bladder and pelvic floor.
  • Stop smoking if you haven’t done so already. Nicotine causes the muscles of the bladder to spasm, and persistent smoking often leads to a chronic cough that encourages bladder leakage.
  • Don’t stop drinking water thinking that it will reduce your urge or need to urinate. You may only end up dehydrated or with a urinary tract infection.
  • Wear incontinence pads until the problem improves, and contact Dedicated to Women if additional care is needed.

There are also surgical options to be considered if incontinence is really bothering you. Dr. Edward Levy, urogynecologist at SSM Health St. Clare Hospital, says if incontinence is an issue of quality of life, you can consider surgical options.    

To learn more about your options, click here

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7pm and FOX 2 News at 9pm.

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