The reason that more women experience bladder leakage than men in a lifetime should come as no surprise.
Men don't carry children.
Turns out that bearing a child is pretty strenuous on the body (who knew!), and there are multiple areas that are affected as a result – the bladder being but one.
Between caring for your child(ren), fitness classes, gardening and giggles with the girls, regardless of how long ago you were pregnant, bladder leakage can happen to any mother in any age bracket doing generally nearly anything - and the experience isn't reserved for those who have just been through childbirth.
The spectrum of light bladder leakage or LBL can range from an unexpected leak after a cough, sneeze or laugh to feeling almost incapacitated. This can have a huge effect on your confidence levels, and make it seem as if your body is failing you. The important thing to note is that you are not alone, and it is possible to regain at least some element of bladder control; but before we talk about how, let’s find out why incontinence happens in the first place.
Generally, women who suffer from bladder leakage after having had a child are experiencing one of two types of incontinence.
Stress incontinence happens when extra pressure is placed on the bladder or the surrounding muscles that assist with urine control, which are known as your pelvic floor muscles. Because of the physical weight of a baby and through the process of giving birth, the pelvic floor muscles can be stretched and weakened to compromise bladder control. During pregnancy, stress incontinence is especially prevalent during the third trimester due to the size of a baby.
Not helping with stress incontinence is the fact that when you are pregnant, your hormones work to relax your pelvic floor muscles to prepare the body for childbirth. If you experience stress incontinence during pregnancy, it is more likely to persist after giving birth.
Do you have LBL? If you leak when you laugh, jump, cough, sneeze or physically exert yourself, it’s likely you have stress incontinence.
Urge incontinence happens due to an overactive bladder. It can feel like you are desperate to go to the bathroom even when your bladder isn’t completely full. This can be the result of nerve damage during pregnancy or while giving birth. It is caused by spasmodic, abnormal bladder contractions that override the muscles of the urethral sphincter (responsible for controlling the flow of urine out of the body) and can result in unexpected leaks.
It is possible to experience both stress incontinence and urge incontinence simultaneously.
How long does incontinence last?
Some women stop leaking a few weeks after giving birth and some after a few months, but due to factors including difficult pregnancies and general health, many women will live with varying degrees of incontinence for the rest of their lives.
Incontinence doesn’t always present directly after childbirth and can come and go across a lifetime – so it’s important to know how you can actively work to keep your body in tip-top non-leak condition!
There are ways to work to improve bladder control and in some cases, stop bladder leakage completely. The most popular, non-invasive way to do this is to incorporate kegel exercises into your daily exercise routine.
Kegel exercises work to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that are responsible for preventing unexpected leaks because they support the bladder, small intestine, rectum, and uterus.
To do Kegel exercises, you first need to locate the correct muscles and you can do this by stopping your stream of urine mid way through.
Lying on your back, contract the same muscles, hold for three seconds, and then release for three. Repeat this sequence ten times, three times per day and over time, you should feel like you are regaining control over your bladder. Changes will take time and you may not notice a massive difference straight away, so to keep motivated, we recommend keeping a diary to reference how your bladder is functioning and how you feel every day.
If you don’t notice any changes after 6 weeks, see your medical professional or physiotherapist who can ensure you are using the correct muscles and recommend a plan to help you move forward.
Do I have to wear disposable pads or (dread the thought!) plastic diapers to manage leakage?
NO! While you are experiencing incontinence and working to improve bladder control, you can wear Confitex underwear.
Our underwear has a patented three-layer technology integrated into the central panel, which works to keep your skin dry, prevent odour, absorb moisture and protect from leaks. In addition, Confitex underwear is washable, dryable and reusable, meaning you don’t have to worry about being caught short.
With three different levels of absorbency available, Confitex is designed to manage multiple leakage episodes across a day. Our fabric is breathable, hypoallergenic and plastic-free which makes it better for your skin, better the environment and, being reusable, much better for your wallet.
Every year, over 18 billion diapers end up in landfills across the USA alone. This is enough plastic to encircle the planet 90 times and they take over 500 years to biodegrade - so the less plastic each individual wastes, the better for us all.
With a range of styles available and sizes from XS – 3XL, while we may be a little biased, we know you will look and feel better when your bladder leakage can be managed by simply putting on a pair of undies, giving you the freedom to enjoy time with your children, stay active and catch up with the girls!