Understanding & Managing Postpartum Incontinence – Boom Home Medical
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Postpartum Incontinence: Causes, Treatments, and Support

by Valerie Ulene 10 Apr 2024

Bringing a new life into the world is joyous, but the postpartum period often comes with a whole host of challenges. One of the physical challenges that many women face after delivering a child (but few seem to talk about) is urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence, or the involuntary loss of bladder control, is extremely common after having a baby, particularly after a vaginal birth.

Roughly one in three women experience incontinence after giving birth (1).

Given the dramatic hormonal and physical stresses that pregnancy puts on the body – the pelvic area in particular – incontinence after giving birth shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. But, because it’s not something that is widely discussed, for many women it does.

Incontinence can profoundly influence the way new mothers feel. It can leave them feeling not just uncomfortable but embarrassed, anxious, frustrated, and discouraged as well. Fortunately, there are ways to effectively manage and treat postpartum incontinence. This blog will discuss many of the strategies and products that can help.

Signs and Symptoms of Postpartum Incontinence

  • Leakage of urine with coughs, sneezes, or exercise
  • Leakage of urine on the way to the toilet
  • The urge to urinate frequently

Causes of Postpartum Incontinence

Pregnancy can damage the pelvic floor, a group of muscles that attach to the pelvic bone and provide support to the bladder and other organs in the pelvic area. During pregnancy, the growing uterus compresses and stretches the pelvic muscles causing them to weaken and increasing the risk of urinary incontinence.

The risk of developing urinary incontinence increases with the number of children a woman carries. In one study, 6.5 percent of women who had never had a child reported having urinary incontinence compared to 9.7 percent of women with one birth, 16.3 percent with two births, and 23.9 percent with three or more births (23.9 percent). (1)

Vaginal delivery can cause further injury to the pelvic floor and further increase the risk of postpartum bladder leaks. Women who have undergone at least one vaginal delivery have been shown to have lower pelvic muscle strength than women who have only delivered by Cesarean section. 

A woman’s age at the time of her pregnancy also impacts the risk of developing postpartum incontinence, with older age being associated with greater risk.

Women who are overweight are more prone to develop incontinence than those who maintain a healthy weight. Although physicians do not completely understand why, some believe that abdominal fat puts excess pressure on the bladder; others hypothesize that being overweight strains tissues in the pelvic area, including the bladder, causing them to weaken. 

Infant birthweight can affect the likelihood of postpartum incontinence with high birthweight (babies over about 8 lbs 12 oz) significantly increasing the risk of urinary incontinence after delivery. (2)

How to Prevent Postpartum Incontinence While Pregnant

Consider doing pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy. 

Some health professionals tell women not to wait until after they deliver to start strengthening their pelvic floor. In fact, starting pelvic floor muscle exercises during pregnancy has been shown to help decrease urinary incontinence during the first 3 to 6 months following delivery. Whether or not this approach helps prevent incontinence over the long-term has not yet been determined.

Maintain a healthy weight. 

While everyone benefits from maintaining a healthy weight, for women who are pregnant or thinking of getting pregnant, it provides unique benefits—it not only helps prevent postpartum urinary incontinence, it also lowers the risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy and gestational diabetes and reduces the chances of preterm birth.

How severe can postpartum incontinence be?

Postpartum incontinence varies in its severity. For some women leakage is minor and, while annoying, doesn’t significantly impact their day-to-day life. For those with more severe symptoms however, bladder leaks are not just embarrassing but incredibly disruptive as well. Some women change their exercise routine or quit exercising altogether because it causes them to leak; others avoid activities that they enjoy like movies, plays, or concerts because they find themselves constantly running to the bathroom. 

Top 5 Treatment Options for Incontinence After Childbirth

The good news is that there are a number of ways to effectively manage postpartum incontinence without the use of medications or surgery. Here are some common approaches:

1. Pelvic Floor Exercises (Kegels) 

Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles through Kegel exercises is often the first-line treatment for postpartum incontinence. These exercises involve contracting and relaxing the muscles that help control bladder function. Although that sounds straightforward, when attempting to do Kegels, many women have trouble isolating the correct muscles, contracting the inner thighs or buttocks instead of the pelvis. To properly exercise the pelvic muscles, try squeezing the muscles you would use if you wanted to stop yourself from passing gas or urinating.

Alternatively, when you are on the toilet, try stopping your urine mid-stream and then releasing it. As with any strength-training routine, to be effective, Kegels need to be done regularly. Ideally, you can find a few minutes to practice them intermittently throughout the day. Doing eight or 10 repetitions of Kegels three or four times a day can go a long way in preventing bladder leakage.  

2. Pelvic Physical Therapy

A pelvic floor physical therapist can provide personalized exercises and techniques to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve bladder control.

3. Bladder Training

Bladder training is a technique that helps some women with postpartum incontinence. The technique establishes regular, fixed times throughout the day to void. It teaches the bladder to hold more urine for longer periods of time, ultimately reducing the number of trips that need to be made to the bathroom. 

4. Lifestyle Modifications

Lifestyle changes can make a big difference for many women. The following approaches are simple and safe–and none of them require a prescription from a doctor.

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Avoid constipation by eating a diet high in fiber and drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day (water is best)
  • Cut back on caffeine-containing beverages like coffee, tea, and energy drinks
  • Limit alcohol intake 

5. Medical Interventions

In severe cases, medication or surgical procedures may be recommended to treat postpartum incontinence. These might include medications to relax the bladder muscles or surgical procedures to repair pelvic floor damage.

Support and Coping Strategies

Dealing with postpartum incontinence can be emotionally challenging for new mothers. If you are experiencing incontinence, perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone and that there is support available. Here are some coping strategies:

Open Communication

Don't hesitate to discuss your incontinence symptoms with your healthcare provider. They can offer guidance and support and may refer you to specialists if needed.

If you find it difficult to bring up postpartum incontinence during an in-person appointment, consider sending an email or message through your online healthcare portal. Bringing up the topic this way can feel less intimidating and gives you the opportunity to articulate your concerns clearly and thoughtfully.

Join Support Groups

Connecting with other women who are experiencing or have experienced postpartum incontinence can provide you with valuable support and reassurance.

Use Absorbent Products

Utilize panty liners or absorbent underwear to manage leakage and remain confident and comfortable throughout the day. While they are not a solution to incontinence, panty liners and absorbent underwear are a simple and practical way to help manage many of the inconveniences associated with it.

Seek Professional Help

If postpartum incontinence is significantly impacting your quality of life, consider seeking help from a therapist or counselor who specializes in women's health issues.

Products for Managing Postpartum Incontinence

Dealing with postpartum incontinence is certainly challenging, but there are products that can help—and Boom Home Medical offers several of them. 

Absorbent Underwear 

Boom Home Medical’s absorbent underwear provides a comfortable and stylish solution to light bladder leaks. Available in both Classic and Lace styles, Boom’s absorbent underwear offers three-layer, all-day protection that keeps you fresh, dry, and feeling great. 

Loona Female Urinal 

The Loona is as functional as it is beautiful. Its soft, contoured funnel creates a comfortable and secure seal against the body, its snap close lid prevents spills and leaks, and its broad, stable base ensures it stays upright. 

The Loona’s durable construction and opaque colors differentiate Loona from other urinals on the market, many of which are made of lightweight, clear plastics. And, although the Loona is only 9 inches tall, it can hold up to 30 ounces of fluid and provides a great solution for either bedside or on-the-go use.

Key Takeaways

Postpartum incontinence is a common but often underestimated condition that many women experience after childbirth. While it can be challenging to navigate, especially amidst the demands of motherhood, it's essential to seek support and explore treatment options. 

With the right approach, including pelvic floor exercises, lifestyle modifications, professional guidance, and incontinence products, women can effectively manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Remember, you're not alone, and there is help available every step of the way.

FAQs: Postpartum Incontinence

Is postpartum incontinence common, and when does it typically occur?

Postpartum incontinence is far more common than most people imagine. In fact, roughly one in three women experience incontinence after giving birth! For many of them, bladder leaks start during the course of their pregnancy, most commonly during the second trimester, and then continue afterwards. For others, symptoms only start after delivery.

How long does postpartum incontinence usually last?

Symptoms of postpartum incontinence frequently resolve after delivery. It’s estimated that seventy percent of women who develop urinary incontinence when they’re pregnant will gradually get better on their own, although it often takes up to 12 months for symptoms to noticeably improve. Even when symptoms don’t resolve entirely, they do tend to get better.

Can postpartum incontinence be prevented or minimized during pregnancy?

Although there’s no foolproof way to prevent postpartum incontinence, focusing on healthy weight gain during pregnancy—and specifically avoiding gaining too much—can help minimize the risk.  There’s also some evidence that starting pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy can be helpful in reducing the likelihood of incontinence after delivery, at least in the short-term.

Are Boom Home Medical's incontinence products suitable for postpartum use?

Boom Home Medical products are designed for a wide range of health-related needs, including women who have just delivered a baby. Because Boom knows that both form (the way things look) and function (the way things function) are important, our innovative products don’t just work well, they also fit seamlessly into people’s lives and homes. 

Where can I find additional support and resources for postpartum incontinence?





1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21050146/

2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32954252/ 

3. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pregnancy-weight-gain.htm


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