Pregnancy Symptoms Week by Week
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Urinary Incontinence in Pregnancy

stress urinary incontinenceAre you pregnant and experiencing more urine leaks than normal? Urinary incontinence (defined as the loss of bladder control) is a very common pregnancy symptom to expect. This symptom can be mild and infrequent for some women; and it can be more severe for other pregnant women. Some pregnant women have occasional, minor urine leaks, whereas other women constantly wet their underwear.

You may only have urine leaks when you laugh or sneeze – which is called stress incontinence. Or, it might be harder for you to hold your pee when you’re trying to run to the bathroom.

There are several types of urinary incontinence that are common in women, including stress incontinence and urge incontinence (you have a sudden, strong urge to urinate, which is followed by you involuntary wetting your pants.) Stress incontinence is more common in pregnant women.

Causes of Urinary Incontinence in Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, the growing uterus exerts pressure on your bladder. The muscles in your pelvic floor and the bladder sphincter (the valve that is located at the bottom of your bladder and which controls the flow of urine) can get overwhelmed by this additional pressure. As a result, urine can accidentally leak out when there’s even more pressure exerted – due to coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercise, etc.

Stress incontinence is common in regular women, as well as pregnant women. Some women get stress incontinence during the week prior to the start of their menstrual period. In that case, stress incontinence is caused by lowered estrogen levels, which weakens the muscular pressure around the urethra. As a result, you may experience urine leakage.

Urinary Incontinence Treatment

Although you can’t always avoid urine leaks, it might be beneficial for pregnant women to practice timed voiding and bladder training.

With “timed voiding,” you keep a diary and record times of when you urinate and when you accidentally leak urine. After awhile, this method gives you a good idea of your urine leakage patterns. You should go to the bathroom at those times to avoid future urinary leakage.

Using “bladder training,” you practice stretching out the periods of when you go to the bathroom by waiting a few minutes before you go. For example, if you go to pee every hour, you may want to follow this pattern for a while. Then, switch it up to where you’re going to the bathroom every hour and a half. Eventually, lengthen the time between bathroom visits. This may help train your bladder.

Try Kegel Exercises

During pregnancy, you may find that Kegel exercises are beneficial to help prevent and control your urinary incontinence. Kegel exercises help strengthen the muscles in your pelvic floor, which can improve the function of both your urethra and the rectal sphincter. Aim to perform 10 Kegel exercises each morning, afternoon, and evening. Kegels can be done anywhere – when you’re sitting at your desk at work, or when you’re driving.
To perform Kegel Exercises, simple use the muscles that you use to pee and stop peeing. Tighten those muscles, hold for 10 seconds, relax for another 10 seconds, and begin again.

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