I gave up jumping on trampolines years ago. Aside from the fact that I’m getting older and they make me motion sick for some reason that just doesn’t make sense, I can’t keep from peeing on myself every time I jump. You may have experienced something like this yourself. Maybe you’re the girl who can’t cough or sneeze without a trickle sneaking past the line. If you’re like me, your issues with gravity didn’t start until after you gave birth, and a new study out this month verifies that yes, women who have a vaginal delivery are at a higher risk of injuries to the muscles that control the pelvic floor. Sometimes it can progress to a condition known as pelvic organ prolapse (POP).
In a study released in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, researchers confirmed what we already knew: labor, birth and pregnancy hormones cause the the pelvic floor to relax, damages nerves and permanently change the structure of the muscles that give strength to control to bowel and bladder function. Medical experts say that these results shouldn’t be any reason for you to be afraid of a vaginal delivery, nor promote a cesarean section.
The study did show that women who labored and pushed but then ended up with a c-section were most likely to have prolapse or incontinence issues more than 6 weeks after delivery. While those conditions can be expected for most women in the weeks following childbirth, they shouldn’t persist beyond that.
So how do we manage a weak pelvic floor? Stay away from trampolines to start, then talk to your doctor. I know it’s not a comfortable subject to bring up, but you should take the first step. Not all doctors treat bladder problems so your doctor may not even be thinking of that when they see you. If you can, try to keep a diary about when your problems are their worst, and what you were doing when your leak happened. Take this information with you to the doctor. All hope is not lost. Through breathing exercises, medications and other methods of treatment you can regain your freedom and hopefully take control of a “leaky” problem.
Not sure where to start? If you have just had a baby, talk to your doctor or Dr. Hessel when you head in for your six week check up. If you’re like me and it’s been years, you may start with your gynecologist, but he or she may refer you to a urologist–a doctor who specializes in the treatment of the urinary tract.