Urinary Incontinence, otherwise known as peeing your pants or loss of bladder control, is common during pregnancy and after pregnancy, especially during exercise. One in three women experience urinary incontinence when exercising! 53% experience it after their 1st pregnancy. And 85% experience it after subsequent pregnancies. [Hyatt, Gwen. Exercise and Urinary Incontinence.] There are two ways to help urinary incontinence before considering surgery: bladder training and pelvic floor exercises.
How to Perform the Kegel
From a lying or sitting position imagine you are cutting off the flow of urine. Hold this contraction for 10 seconds. Repeat. Remember not to contract the abs, buttocks or thigh muscles. A good cue is to contract your anus.
Pelvic Floor Development
Squeeze before you Sneeze: If you are about to cough, sneeze or strain it is important to pull your pelvic floor muscles up and in. Brace your muscles before sneezing and you should prevent leakage. Remember your Pelvic Floor Muscles act as a sling from the pubic bone to tailbone. Pregnancy, childbirth and decreasing estrogen weaken these muscles. BUT these muscle fibers can be trained! Like any muscle group, you have to specifically target these muscles. You wouldn’t swim to train for a marathon right? So let’s find the correct muscles to train.
The Kegel exercise above is the best way to identify and isolate those muscles. Remember that in order to strengthen any muscle you have to overload it—that means that you have to work it beyond the point of its previous condition. Doing multiple sets of Kegel exercises while you are driving, sitting and watching television, eating, etc. can do wonders to help you maintain control of your bladder.