What Is Urinary Leakage?
Urine leakage or urinary incontinence refers to the excessive and involuntary leakage of urine.
There are many types of urine incontinence, including stress incontinence, urge incontinence, overflow incontinence, and mixed incontinence. This could be a result of anything from weakened pelvic floor muscles to a dysfunctional bladder, and even, in some cases, pregnancy.
Why does urinary leakage happen during pregnancy?
Involuntary urine leakage can happen due to increased pressure on the bladder, urethra and pelvic floor muscles. Your body changes to accommodate childbirth, and your growing baby often presses on the bladder. This puts extra stress on the bladder, causing involuntary leakage when you cough or laugh (stress incontinence), in addition to compressing the bladder, making less space for urine.
What about after childbirth?
Experiencing urine leakage after giving birth is common as well. This depends on several factors, such as the type of pregnancy you’ve had and the number of children you’ve birthed.
Loss of bladder control could also be caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles, as a result of the pregnancy or vaginal delivery. Insufficient support from the pelvic floor muscles can cause the bladder to sag or droop, which, in turn, stretches the urethra’s opening.
Other factors could also cause stress incontinence after pregnancy, such as:
- Long labour – prolonged pushing could lead to injury of the pelvic nerves
- Delivery with forceps – sometimes, using forceps during delivery could injure the pelvic floor muscles and anal sphincter muscles
- Having a large baby – birthing a large baby could stretch and weaken the pelvic floor muscles
What are the risks of urinary incontinence during pregnancy?
Urine incontinence linked to pregnancy and childbirth is fairly harmless and should resolve over time, after birth, within 3-6 months. However, it can greatly affect your quality of life and cause distress. In these cases, treatment is recommended.
Urine leakage is often diagnosed based on your symptoms and several tests such as a urine analysis, ultrasound of the bladder, and a bladder stress test. Getting to the root cause of your urinary incontinence is paramount in determining the right treatment plan for you.
Post-pregnancy incontinence treatments recommended
There are several ways to remedy pregnancy-induced urinary incontinence. This could range from more conservative methods and minimally invasive procedures to surgical intervention.
More conservative methods include wearing adult diapers, kegel exercises, double voiding, oral medications, changing patterns of fluid intake, weight loss, and reducing caffeine consumption.
Minimally invasive treatments include:
- Electrical stimulation therapy — this treatment involves the use of a special device that emits an electromagnetic field to stimulate the pelvic floor muscles and strengthens them, similar to performing Kegels.
- Laser treatment — this treatment involves the use of an intravaginal probe that utilises laser energy to increase the thickness and strengthens the vaginal walls.
“Bladder weakness after birth | Pregnancy, Birth and Baby.” Pregnancy, Birth and Baby, https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/bladder-weakness-after-birth. Accessed 23 December 2022.
“Incontinence After Childbirth | CU Urogynecology | Colorado.” CU Urogynecology, https://urogyn.coloradowomenshealth.com/conditions/bladder/incontinence-after-childbirth.html. Accessed 23 December 2022.
“Pregnancy & Bladder Control: Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, 11 June 2020, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/16094-pregnancy-and-bladder-control. Accessed 23 December 2022.