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What To Expect After Expecting: Stress Urinary Incontinence

What To Expect After Expecting: Stress Urinary Incontinence

May 4, 2023

Every new parent worries about how pregnancy and childbirth will affect them physically. With so much additional stress on the pelvic organs, postpartum urinary incontinence is a common experience for birthing parents. Fortunately, there are treatment options for this condition. Here’s what to know about postpartum urinary incontinence and when to talk to your doctor. 

What is urinary stress incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine,” said Adam S. Holzberg, D.O., urogynecologist at Inspira Medical Group. “There are several types of urinary incontinence, including postpartum stress urinary incontinence, which is when urinary leakage happens while laughing, sneezing, coughing, exercising or during other strenuous activities.” 

Stress urinary incontinence happens because childbirth can tear or damage the pelvic floor muscles or urethral sphincter. As your baby grows throughout pregnancy, the uterus puts an increasing amount of pressure on the bladder, urethra and pelvic floor, stretching and weakening these muscles and causing them to become less supportive. Following delivery, it can be easier for urine to escape from the bladder.

As the body heals after delivery, many patients experience accidental leakage as the pelvic floor muscles rebuild. Temporary urinary incontinence is common and is even more likely to occur after subsequent pregnancies. In many cases, it resolves itself within the first six months postpartum. 

Talking to your doctor about postpartum incontinence

When you see your OB/GYN provider at your postpartum visit, they’ll ask how you’re feeling, address any problems or unexpected symptoms and assess your recovery process. Talking to your doctor about all your symptoms—including issues with urinary incontinence—is the first step in getting the help you need and preventing future medical problems. 

“Talk to your OB/GYN if you’re still experiencing stress urinary incontinence after six months postpartum,” said Dr. Holzberg. “They can evaluate your condition and refer you to a urogynecologist to discuss treatment options.” 

Treatment options for stress urinary incontinence

Urinary stress incontinence can be managed and treated in many different ways, depending on your condition and the severity of your symptoms. “Non-surgical therapies, such as Kegel exercises, can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, minimizing leakage,” said Dr. Holzberg. “Working with a physical therapist is strongly suggested, as this helps ensure you engage the correct muscles and contract them for an appropriate amount of time.”  

If more conservative measures don’t improve your symptoms, surgery can be done with high success rates. Talking to your doctor about your symptoms can help them develop a treatment plan, either surgical or non-surgical, that addresses your specific needs.

Inspira’s urogynecology program helps address pelvic floor changes including incontinence. Learn more about our approach.

Inspira Health is a high reliability organization (HRO), which means safety is the top priority for patients and staff. To make an appointment, call 1-800-INSPIRA.

Topics: Maternity, Obstetrics & Gynecology