What should I do?
As a new mum there is something quite alarming when you discover that you have lost control of your bladder. For some this may happen immediately after the baby arrives and all sensation and ability to control your urine has gone. For others, it happens when they cough or sneeze and you find yourself leaking. Many discover this issue when returning to exercise- mid way through the exercise class you find yourself having to run out of the class and wishing that you wore your black leggings instead of your grey ones. Leaking or experiencing some incontinence after having a baby is a common problem, but there is help. You are not alone.
Who should I see?
For issues with incontinence or leaking it is best to seek the advice of a women's health physiotherapist. They are able to conduct a full assessment of your bladder habits and pelvic floor function. A women's health physiotherapist has undertaken additional training to assess and help you with any issues related to your bladder and bowel control, and can even provide an internal examination to determine your pelvic floor function, strength, and whether you are actually doing your pelvic floor exercises correctly.
What treatment should I have?
Treatment is always individualised based on your assessment findings. But may often include pelvic floor muscle strength and endurance training, bladder retraining and lifestyle modifications. Due to the internal location of your pelvic floor muscles, it is only possible to find out whether you are contracting your pelvic floor muscles correctly and the strength of the contraction is through a vaginal examination. A vaginal examination is pain free and will also allow the therapist to check for the position of your pelvic organs and walls to rule out any issues with prolapse.
How long does it take to get better?
This will greatly vary depending on the extent of the problem. Some women will only need a few sessions with the physiotherapist to get the improvements they are looking for, while others may take longer. As a general rule the earlier you seek help for this issue the better and faster the recovery time will be.
Incontinence is a very common complaint for women before and after pregnancy. Do not feel ashamed about it- always seek help and advice.
Women's Health Physiotherapist: Faith Hoffmann