Can Having A Baby Lead To Stress Incontinence?

October 26, 2017

Can Having A Baby Lead To Stress Incontinence?

We all know having a baby changes us and it's pretty safe to say that our bodies will never be the same again! As your baby grew inside of you, the enlarged uterus put a good amount of pressure on your bladder. The bladder just happens to be located right below your uterus! This is why when you were pregnant you might have experienced some minor leaking. About a third of first time pregnancies result in temporary stress incontinence. Most women return to having full continence after delivery since this is when the tissues from the birth canal heal.  But did you know some women will experience incontinence for a year or more after giving birth?

Here's why:

The pudendal and the pelvic nerves just happen to lie on each side of the birth canal. These nerves are particularly vulnerable  to the pressure of giving birth. The nerves are responsible for carrying the signals from the brain to the muscles that hold the bladder and rectum in place. During the birth process these nerves are almost always injured to some extent. Without the normal nerve stimulation the pelvic muscles become weak.

Pelvic tissues may also be subject to damage with a normal delivery as the head comes out. The force is so strong that ligaments can actually tear, these ligaments anchor the muscles to the pelvic bones. Sometimes these muscles can become damaged as well.

You might be wondering what can be done to lower the risk of temporary incontinence?

Here's a few tips:

1. Try not to push during contractions, unless your told to! This allows the natural contractions of the uterus to push the baby down the birth canal. Save the pushing for the delivery of the baby's head!

2. The use of forceps should be discouraged!

3. Avoid an episiotomy if possible. Instead try having the area called the perineum massaged. This helps gently stretch and soften the skin and helps prevent tearing.

Sometimes temporary incontinence is simply unavoidable. Try not to stress if you do experience some degree of incontinence! It will likely resolve itself over time!