Incontinence is the leakage of urine, fecal matter, or gas (a queef or a fart unable to be held in) from the body. This post is going to focus more on urinary incontinence as it is the most prevalent among postnatal women.
Fun fact: 44.7% of women who do not have any incontinence after baby will develop some form of incontinence 5-7 years after (CPPC Manual, 2018). This number increases each year following delivery. Meaning that, women who are further postnatal may be in more need of a more personalized program for their fitness routine.
A lot of women laugh it off and say, "Of course I pee myself when I laugh, I've had 3 kids!" Did you know that incontinence is common, but not normal? You heard me right, peeing your pants is not normal. It is your body telling you that something is going on with your pelvic floor. There are a few different forms of incontinence (see image below for a description). Stress, urge, overflow and neurogenic incontinence, as well as mixed urinary incontinence (a mixture of stress and urge incontinence).
A poll was also done in 2018 with over 1,000 women between the ages of 50-80 asking about incontinence. 43 percent from ages 50-60 stated they have noticed leakage of urine and 51 percent 65+ stated they had as well, yet two thirds of those women had NOT spoken to a doctor about it! (University of Michigan, 2018). They also asked what strategies they used to manged their incontinence (see image below for results).
Over half just put on a pad and went about their day. Only 38% did pelvic floor exercises, that may or may not have been prescribed. So many women go about their day, planning where the bathrooms are in the places they are going, wearing certain clothes so others don't notice, etc. Luckily pelvic floor physiotherapy is becoming more and more common and women are finally speaking out and getting the necessary help needed when it comes to incontinence.
Our bodies will always find a way to tell us something isn't right; aching knee pain, shoulder pain, etc. are all ways our bodies tell us something isn't working the way it should be and usually, we go get it looked at by our doctor, chiropractor, or physiotherapist. Leakage is our body's way of telling us something isn't quite right with our pelvic floor.
A pelvic floor (PF) physiotherapist is someone who specializes in pelvic floor health. They can do the assessments in order to find out what your body may be telling you and prescribe the correct exercises to try and help fix what is going on. For some women with incontinence, it may be kegels to strengthen their PF muscles, others it may be relaxation techniques in order to relax the muscles of the PF. Either way, what is prescribed should help decrease and/or eliminate the incontinence that is happening.
So ladies! This is not something you need to "accept" or "live with" because you think it is a normal part of becoming a mother. Incontinence is something that is treatable and can be decreased and/or eliminated! Get out there and visit a PF physio near you! Then hit me up for a great workout that will not increase any symptoms you may have ; )
University of Michigan (2018). Poll: Half of women over 50 experience incontinence, but most haven't talked to a doctor. https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-11/mm-u-pho102918.php.
CPPC Certification Manual (2018). Pre and Postnatal Coaching Certification Manual.