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Accidentally Peed in Your Panties? Incontinence During Pregnancy, Explained
PHOTO BY @RyanKing999/iStock
  • Ever experienced accidentally peeing in your undies while you were pregnant? You’re not alone. Embarrassing as it is, it is normal for a woman who is on the family way to have some difficulty with bladder control. It’s called urinary incontinence, and it is a common condition, affecting almost 40 percent of pregnant women.

    Incontinence might begin early on in pregnancy, manifesting as a frequent urge to urinate. It could get more intense as the baby grows inside your womb. 

    Why does incontinence happen? 

    There are actually 4 types of incontinence: stress (loss of urine due to the physical pressure on the bladder), urgency (loss of urine due to an urgent need to urinate caused by bladder conditions), transient (caused by medication or a temporary condition like UTI) or even a mix of all these symptoms. A pregnant woman may experience incontinence brought about by pressure as the baby in her womb grows, or even when she sneezes, exercises, or laughs. 

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    The bladder, which fills with urine throughout the day, is situated above the pelvic floor, while the sphincter acts as a guard to the opening. When you’re pregnant, the pelvic floor muscles become strained from the pressure from the growing baby, among other factors.

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    Your risks for incontinence increases with age, if you’re on the heavy side, if you’ve delivered your baby vaginally, and if you have a history of urinary tract infection. Hormonal changes may also come into play, as your levels of progesterone and relaxin, which are responsible for controlling the bladder, may sometimes fluctuate.

    How to manage incontinence

    Urinary incontinence can significantly affect a pregnant woman’s quality of life, as simple actions like sneezing and laughing could trigger it. What more if you’re strolling in a place where there are a limited number of comfort rooms! Fortunately, there are ways to manage.  

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    At a workshop during the launch of So Sure Bladder Leakage Pads, certified doula and licensed physiotherapist Thammie Sy mentioned research findings that say women who began exercising during pregnancy were less likely to report leakage in late pregnancy and up to six months after birth.

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    Other ways by which a woman could minimize the possibility of incontinence during pregnancy are the following:

    Do Kegel exercises. These exercises aim to strengthen your pelvic floor during pregnancy and may even make your labor progress smoothly. Doing several repetitions a day could train the relevant muscles. 

    Watch your weight. The extra pounds add to the pressure on your bladder. 

    Drink lots of water. Less water intake could result in constipation also worsens incontinence.

    Train your bladder. Instead of holding off until you have the urge, try to pee on regular intervals and then gradually increase it just to see how much longer you can keep it in. 

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    Use a leakage pad, to be sure. If you won’t have access to a restroom for an extended period, better be on the safe side and use bladder leakage pads (different from adult diapers).

    After giving birth, your bladder control should return to normal gradually, although women who gave birth vaginally may notice a difference in how their body feels. See your doctor if the situation does not improve and incontinence persists. 

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