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Postpartum Incontinence – Common, Not Normal

Per a 2011 systematic review, during the first three months postpartum the prevalence of any postpartum incontinence was 33%.(1)


During this three-month timeframe after delivery, the prevalence of urinary incontinence was found to be twice as high in the those who delivered via a vaginal birth (31%) as compared to those who underwent a Cesarean section (15%).(1) However, even though short-term occurrence of any degree of postpartum stress urinary incontinence is reduced with cesarean section, long term severe symptoms were shown to be equivalent for those who underwent a vaginal delivery and those who underwent a Cesarean section.(2)


The short of it – we commonly encounter urinary incontinence with women after having a baby. Many accept it as just a "normal" part of life. While incontinence after a baby may be common, it is not a normal thing. Here, we'll discuss some of the risk factors we've seen for developing incontinence, as well as things you can do to take back control.


Risk Factors for Postpartum Incontinence


A woman may be at greater risk for the development of urinary incontinence after delivery if she is greater than 35 years old, experiences urinary incontinence during pregnancy, has an elevated body mass index (BMI), and has a multiparous (multiple fetuses) pregnancy. According to a 2013 systematic review, women continent prior to pregnancy who received pelvic health physical therapy during their pregnancy are significantly less likely to report urinary incontinence within the first 6 months postpartum as compared to those that did not see a pelvic health physical therapist.(3)


Treatment of Postpartum Incontinence


First-line treatment for incontinence postpartum should include a pelvic health physical therapy evaluation and treatment if deemed medically appropriate.(3) And more importantly, if a woman should experience pelvic pain and/or urinary incontinence during pregnancy, she should talk to her provider about obtaining a pelvic health physical therapy referral to help optimize her pregnancy and delivery and to improve her postpartum recovery.


Summary


Although these symptoms are commonly experienced postpartum, they are not normal! Instead of relying on social media influencers and high-cost options, seeing a physical therapist allows for a comprehensive assessment and cost-effective means to manage your incontinence. We are here to help you regain back your self-confidence in your bladder control and most importantly your life!


References:

  1. Thom, David H., and Guri Rortveit. “Prevalence of Postpartum Urinary Incontinence: A Systematic Review.” Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, vol. 89, no. 12, Dec. 2010, pp. 1511–1522, 10.3109/00016349.2010.526188.

  2. Gonzales, Alicia L., et al. “Prevalence and Treatment of Postpartum Stress Urinary Incontinence.” Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery, vol. 27, no. 1, Apr. 2020, p.1, 10.1097/spv.0000000000000866.

  3. Boyle, Rhianon, et al. “Pelvic Floor Muscle Training for Prevention and Treatment of Urinary and Fecal Incontinence in Antenatal and Postnatal Women: A Short Version Cochrane Review.” Neurourology and Urodynamics, vol. 33, no. 3, 24 Apr. 2013, pp. 269–276, 10.1002/nau.22402. Accessed 30 Sept. 2019.







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