Have you ever cracked an "ever since I had my kids, I pee when I sneeze" joke to fellow moms? Postpartum leaking (or "urinary incontinence") is common, but it does NOT need to be normal!
A "stretched out" pelvic floor is often blamed as the cause of leaking. But did you know there are other reasons that YOU CAN CONTROL with some simple education and self-evaluation?
1. Habit- Urge incontinence is when you feel like you cannot make it to the bathroom on time (often caused by a trigger). Perhaps your leaking is a mental barrier--not a physical one!
Tip: Identify triggers that cause the "I have to go NOW!" feeling. Do you go to the bathroom right before a workout because you EXPECT to leak? Do you get into the shower and immediately feel like you need to pee? Retrain your brain that you don't need to pee every time it's 1/4 full!
2. You're a glute clencher- As your belly (and frontal weight) grows during pregnancy, you unknowingly clench/squeeze your glutes and pelvic floor in order to counteract the changes in your center of gravity. This becomes a habit, and you continue to be a "glute clencher" postpartum. By holding a low level "squeeze" at all times, it does not allow your glutes or pelvic floor to ever relax, leading to a decrease in "squeezing power" during high pressure situations like a sneeze.
Tip: Glute clenchers often stand with their toes pointed slightly out, their butts look flat and/or their pants look "sucked into" their glutes. While standing, take a look in the mirror at your natural standing posture!
3. Diet/lifestyle habits- Caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods, smoking and stress can have many physiological effects on the body, including the bladder!
Tips: Experiment with removing the items above prior to joining activities where you often experience leaking.
4. Your ribs are stuck- Another common habit of postpartum women is to breath with your belly. When the air inhaled goes to your belly and pelvic floor, it gives your ribs no reason to move, ultimately causing your ribs to become stuck. Your diaphragm, core muscles and pelvic floor muscles work together as a team- if you can wake up your ribs through diaphragmatic breathing, it can unlock and realign your pelvic floor, allowing it to finally function properly! -
Tip: Have someone videotape you breathing while standing and lying on your back. What moves as you inhale--your belly, ribcage, shoulders or a combination?
Both Drea and Brit are Prenatal and Postpartum certified, and Postpartum Corrective Exercise Specialists (PCES). They are passionate in helping mamas like you to live their best and healthiest life. If you struggle with postpartum leaking, reach out to us to learn how Drea and Brit can help!
Drea & Brit
We're sisters, moms, certified personal trainers and fitness instructors who specialize in postpartum fitness. We are passionate about building a community of health focused moms while also offering safe, fun, and effective fitness classes and personal training for postpartum women.