I’m going to reveal a huge secret: 33% of all women have urinary incontinence within the first 3 months after giving birth. What’s urinary incontinence? It’s when you pee your pants. For most women it’s quite embarrassing to talk about something they haven’t done since they were 3 years old, so peeing while sneezing is not a common topic at the girls’ night out. But here at RetraceHealth, we’re fearless, and we’re tackling the issue head-on. We’ll explain why it happens and how to prevent it.Urinary incontinence is an issue with the pelvic floor, which is a group of muscles that hold up all the organs in your lower abdomen (your bladder, your intestines, your uterus). After pregnancy (read: pushing out a small human being), these muscles become injured and weakened. Of course, like any injured muscle, they can heal over time. However, they don’t always heal 100%, and as a result, a woman can struggle with “holding it” throughout her lifetime. Fortunately, exercising the pelvic floor can strengthen it and help it heal.Now that the secret’s out, let’s talk about the solution: the Kegel. The Kegel is an exercise for the pelvic floor that mimics the muscle contraction that you would use to stop urinating mid-stream or to “hold your pee.” You hold the contraction for 10 seconds and then release. Do ten of these in a row three times a day for your daily pelvic floor workout.The concept seems easy, but knowing if you’re doing the exercise correctly can be challenging. Mayo Clinic is a great resource for proper technique. And for keeping you on track with your goals, Apps like the Kegel Trainer (available for Apple and Android) remind users to do their daily Kegels and track their progress over time. The important thing is to make the exercise part of your routine – do Kegels before meals, set an alarm on your phone, or find an app like Kegel Trainer to help incorporate them into your day.
Pelvic floor training is for everyone, not just women post childbirth (though it’s especially important for them). So women, don’t be afraid to share! Keeping urinary incontinence a secret only creates shame around a natural phenomenon. Talk to your healthcare provider, your friends, and other women about incontinence, and support each other in doing your Kegels.