Hi Is This Normal,

Hello yes, I’d just like to know if there’s honestly any chance I’ll stop peeing in my pants every day? Because this seems to be my destiny now and it’s fairly terrifying. Am I resolved to a life of panty liners and dirty underwear? My doctor seems to be pretty lax about it unless I want to do physical therapy which is LOL considering my schedule and budget.

Needless to say, I’m not thrilled about the situation…

Thanks,

No Longer Potty Trained

 

Hi there No Longer Potty Trained,

Mama, I hear you and I salute you with my free hand (you know, the one not currently cupping my nethers to keep the pee in). There is a whole lot about postpartum recovery that, for some reason, people just … don’t talk about? Sure, you hear all about the sleepless nights and chafed nipples and stretch marks. But there’s a dark underbelly of postpartum recovery and motherhood that is still very taboo, and people are downright embarrassed to talk about it. Luckily for you, there’s no shame in my game!

Short answer: this is TOTALLY normal. Postpartum urinary incontinence is not only normal, it’s shockingly common. I bet if you asked all your mom friends about unintended leakage, a solid 90% of them would have some stories to tell. It’s estimated that approximately 7 million women in the US suffer from the condition after the birth of a child. It’s quite common during pregnancy, and more prevalent in women who deliver vaginally. Stress incontinence is the most common type of UC, occurring mostly in the third trimester (hi, heavy baby on your bladder), and lasting anywhere from a year or longer after your baby is born. When you deliver a baby, the muscles you use to control your bladder weaken, and hormonal changes during and after pregnancy can affect the elasticity of the ligaments in your pelvic floor. It sounds pretty gnarly, and you know what? It is! Because you literally grew and then brought earthside an actual human being like a warrior. Anywho, it’s a lot of medical jargon which translates to peeing your pants when you sneeze, basically. Let’s hear it for another one of those hidden pregnancy and childbirth side effects, hooray!

Now, to answer your question: you will stop peeing your pants one day. Maybe not tomorrow, but one day! I know how embarrassing it can be – trust me, there’s a stationary bike at my gym that I can’t even LOOK at without reliving the memory of an unfortunate spritz. Your pelvic floor and all those muscles and ligaments have been through the ringer, and it takes time and targeted exercise to get them back in pee-catching shape. It’s so unfortunate that your doctor seems desensitized to your discomfort. Sure, it’s not life-threatening, but it can make you feel like a real wet blanket (HEYO!). Physical therapy would be awesome, but panty liners are cheaper than a weekly co-pay and easier than finding an hour to yourself for your appointment. Luckily, there are some home exercises you can do to help strengthen that pelvic floor. Kegel exercises are kind of like … pilates for your privates. Try this one: lie down with your knees bent and feet slightly apart. Tighten the muscles around your vagina and urethra, like you’re trying to keep from tooting in line at Whole Foods (what, like I’m the only one?). But make sure you’re not using your abs – the contraction should all be in your vaginal area. Clench and release in time with your breathing; tighten on your inhale, controlled release on a slow exhale. Start by doing a few reps a day, and work your way up to 3-4 sets of 10, every other day.

I so wish I could tell you there was some magic pill or something that would shut the leaky faucet off. But your body did this crazy amazing thing, and it’s going to take time for it to put itself back together! Keep up with your Kegels, minimize your caffeine intake (it can make your bladder contract more easily), and in time, you’ll be able to laugh without crossing your legs.

Yours in Panty Liners,

Is This Normal

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