Bladder Control After Childbirth

As many as three out of 10 new mothers accidentally leak urine when they laugh, cough, lift, sneeze, or exercise. Incontinence is more common in women who have babies with a high birth weight. Plus, the more babies a woman has delivered, the higher her risk for incontinence.

To prevent or relieve this type of urinary incontinence, you need to strengthen the muscles that control urine flow. Simple pelvic-floor strengthening exercises, called Kegels, take less than five minutes a day to do. Here’s how:

1. Find the right muscles by trying to stop the flow of urine when you’re sitting on the toilet. Squeeze these muscles without tightening any other muscles.

2. Hold for a count of three. Then relax for a count of three. Work up to being able to repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times. Then repeat two more times later in the day. For each session, vary your position. Do one set lying down, one set standing, and one set sitting.

If you do three sets of 10 to 15 of these exercises each day, you should notice an improvement within three to six weeks. In the meantime, to prevent accidents, try to do a Kegel exercise before you laugh, cough, or sneeze. You might even be able to prevent incontinence in the first place by practicing Kegel exercises during pregnancy.

Call your doctor if you still have problems with incontinence six weeks after giving birth.

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian MD

Date Last Reviewed: 4/2/2010

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