How To Manage Leaks During And After Pregnancy

How To Manage Leaks During And After Pregnancy

You're expecting and you couldn't be happier! There's literally a mini-you baking in the oven and you feel proud, excited, and even nervous about it. However, now the phrase, "you're expecting", has taken on a new meaning. Sure, you're expecting a baby, but you also may begin to throw up at random times, crave things you've never desired before, and even leak a little after a sneeze. Nobody told you that you should be expecting all of that!

You're able to get past the sleepless nights and aches and pains, but these leaks, they're not your thing. However, this too shall pass. In the meantime, you can implement a few techniques and products to make it a little more bearable.

What's Up With These Leaks?

A woman's body goes through A LOT while carrying a baby! The uncomfortable experiences are the body's way of adapting for the baby and preparing for childbirth. I mean, we've got to expect a little discomfort with a baby growing and organs shifting to make room for it, right?

Stressed Out Sphincter

You can thank your expanding uterus for putting pressure on the bladder and making you spritz when you walk, talk, laugh and sneeze. This extra pressure on your bladder is known as stress incontinence and this happens when the bladder sphincter doesn't function well enough to hold in urine.

Hormones Going Haywire

Hormones play a big part too. Relaxin is a hormone that relaxes your muscles in preparation for labor. Progesterone is also released to soften your ligaments. The result? A pelvic floor that's looser and softer, which leads to less control of your bladder.

Bladder Spazzes and Spritz

Are you frequenting the ladies room more often than usual? Then you might have an overactive bladder. This happens when the bladder starts uncontrollably spazzing out and it's a common condition for pregnant women.

Can I Do Anything About It?

The short answer is yes, you can do something about it. However, what you do about it might not actually stop the leaks. It's one of those things that you can't 100 percent control. However, there are things you can do to help manage it during your pregnancy.

Kegel exercises are helpful before, during and after pregnancy. Doing just a few sets of 20-30 Kegel exercises a day can help whip your pelvic floor muscles into shape. Keep in mind, a stronger pelvic floor can better support your uterus and bladder, which could mean fewer leaks.  Plus, they'll come in handy when it's time to give birth! However, before you decide to implement anything new, like Kegel exercises, be sure to consult with your doctor first.

You're probably tempted to cut back on your water intake but that's not a good idea. Ensure you're getting the recommended amount of water each day. Otherwise, you could wind up with dehydration or an unpleasant UTI.

Could your diet be irritating your bladder? It's certainly possible. Ditch the soda pops, coffee (sorry!), tomatoes, and citrus stuff.

Products Can Help You, Too

One way to keep your leaks to yourself is by using pads, but not just any kind of pads. If you're tempted to grab one of your menstrual pads that have been stashed away for a while, please don't. They might look like they can get the job done but they won't. Menstrual pads are great for absorbing menstrual flow but not the rapid output of urine. Instead, look into bladder control pads. They're much more comfortable and offer better protection. Bladder control pads are designed to control odor, keep you dry, and let you remain discreet about your leaks.

Using a Product is Okay

A lot of women are embarrassed about bladder leakage and don't discuss options with friends or their doctor. Others feel like a few leaks aren't that big of a deal. No matter how you feel about it, you don't have to just deal with it. Doing a few Kegels and wearing a bladder control pad as a backup is a great strategy for managing leaks.

Growing a human being inside of you is going to cause a lot of physical and hormonal changes that you may or may not expect. However, one thing you can expect is to have options to make those pesky leaks a little more bearable!

What are you currently doing about leaks? Tell us about it in the comments!


This Post was brought to you by Lily Bird

Lily Bird is for all women with leaky laughs and dribble dilemmas. We squeeze when we sneeze and drip when we jump. And we think it's high time we stop saying sorry for the spritz. We provide a hassle-free monthly subscription service for bladder leak products as well as free tips and tricks for women to take control of leaks via The Chirp.

A Guide To Talking To Your Doctor About Bladder Leakage

A Guide To Talking To Your Doctor About Bladder Leakage

A Guide To Talking To Your Doctor About Bladder Leakage

Taking the first step in talking to your doctor about bladder or bowel issues is hard, but it’s a necessary part of getting treatment. Make the leap and find a specialist today so that you can start getting this problem under control and living your life again.

Prepare For Your Visit

Preparing for your visit and knowing what to expect can help make this conversation a bit less intimidating. Make sure you read up on the conditions and treatment options available so that you know the right questions to ask your doctor. It may help to write your questions down ahead of time so that you don’t forget them during the appointment, when your nerves can get the better of you. It may also help to keep a bladder or bowel diary for a few days prior to your visit, so that you can give your doctor (and yourself!) a good glimpse into your bathroom patterns. By keeping a diary you may even start to see some common links associated between your habits (what you eat and drink) and your urges or leaks.

What To Expect At Your Appointment

You may be wondering what to expect when you see your doctor.  Here is a rundown on some things he or she may talk with you about or do during your appointment:

Your symptoms.

Your doctor will likely ask you to describe all the symptoms you are experiencing.  This is where your trusty bladder diary that you’ve been filling out will come in handy.  Review this with them and tell them anything else about your incontinence that is causing you trouble.  

Your medical history.

Your doctor will want to know about all of your medical history, particularly details of childbirth and any pelvic surgery.  Be sure to tell him or her about any other problems that may be related to your incontinence – bladder infections, difficulty urinating, neurologic problems such as back injury, stroke, or any gynecologic problems are all things that may play into your symptoms and help your doctor determine an appropriate treatment plan for you.

Prior treatments for incontinence.

Talk with your doctor about what you’ve done to treat your incontinence, and how it has worked for you.  Have you used medication?  Had surgery? Any other procedures?  He needs to know.

Physical examination. 

Your doctor will likely perform a physical examination.  He or she may test your urine for infection or other problems, catheterize you to determine if you are emptying the bladder completely, or examine you while coughing and straining to see if that has any effect on incontinence.  In more advanced cases, your doctor may also request that an X-ray or MRI of the bladder be done to get a better insight into what is happening.

Your wishes. 

It is important to note that while your doctor may suggest some options he or she feels are best for you, you have a strong say in your treatment plan too.  Voice any concerns you have about certain treatment options and ask about ones that you are interested in.  Not keen on medications? Tell him!  Want to see if physical therapy may help?  Ask more about this option.  Your wishes matter and your doctor will want to know the types of treatments you are willing to try.  After all, by setting you up with a treatment plan you are on board with, you’ll be more likely to stick with it and experience success, which is exactly what your doctor wants for you.  So speak up!

Be Open

Above all else, be as open and honest about your condition as you can be. This can be an embarrassing and hard conversation to have, but know that you are speaking with a medical professional whose job it is to have these discussions. And trust us, you are most certainly not the first patient, nor will you be the last, to have this conversation with them.  This is your chance – give them any and all information that may help them assemble the best plan possible for you.

Need some more inspiration to talk to your doctor? Check out these inspirational stories from people who made the leap!

Ask The Expert: How Do I Know If My Bladder Leaks Are Serious Enough To Talk To A Doctor About?

When Should I Talk To A Doctor About Bladder Leaks?

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: How do I know if my bladder leaks are serious enough to talk to a doctor about?

Answer: This is a great question, and one that we wish more people would ask. Bladder leaks are a bit like a leaky faucet. Annoying at first, but something that most people ignore for a while. However, given too much time, what started as a small faucet leak can turn into a full-blown problem. The same is true with your bladder. What may start as an annoying occasional problem can get worse over time if left untreated. Many patients wait too long to get treatment, for a variety of reasons – they don’t think their problems is that bad, they are embarrassed to talk about it, they feel like they can manage it on their own. However over time, the condition can worsen and incontinence can truly become a part of daily life, which is something no one wants to deal with.

Here are three questions to ask yourself when wondering if you should get treated for bladder leaks:

  1. Is this problem affecting my daily life, even a little?
  2. Does it bother me that I have to make adjustments for my bladder leaks (like always finding the nearest bathroom when you’re out, bringing along a change of clothes just in case, or having the occasional leak.)?
  3. Will I feel upset years from now when I look back on this time, and wish that I had done more to treat this issue?

If you answered YES to any of the above three questions, it’s time to talk to your doctor. Any condition that is keeping you from living your fullest life is one that should be seen to. Don’t wait another minute – with so many treatment options, for bladder leakage there is just no reason to not get help.

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Have a question you'd like answered? Contact us!

Men And Kegels - The Ultimate Guide

Men's Ultimate Guide To Kegels

Kegel exercises have long been associated with women – something that they do during pregnancy and post childbirth to tone up their pelvic floors and prevent or ease incontinence symptoms. But Men, if you haven’t tried kegels, you’re truly missing out. Not only can they help ease bladder leakage if you have it, experts claim that they can also give you a stronger erection and orgasm. Want to learn more? Keep reading.

What are Kegels and what muscles do they work?

Kegels are basically the contracting of the muscles in your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is comprised of a tightly woven web of muscles, located in the base of the pelvis between the pubic bone and tailbone. These muscles have three main functions:

  1. They help support the pelvic organs such as the bladder, the intestines and the rectum.
  2. They help control bladder and bowel function and can prevent or ease symptoms of bladder leakage.
  3. They are involved in sexual functionality.

As with any other muscle in the body, if they get weak, they can no longer perform their job. These muscles can naturally stretch and become weaker over time, but with proper exercise they can remain strong to ensure good sexual and bladder health and function.

How do kegels benefit me? 

Kegels can address a number of issues that men may face related to their bladder or bowel.

Bladder Leaks. 

Urinary incontinence is a condition that affects as many as 15% of men aged 15-64, and may be caused by a number of health conditions. The most common cause of incontinence in men is due to problems with the prostate, but other conditions can affect bladder function as well. Incontinence in men can range from a small amount of leakage after urination, or more substantial leaking when performing physical activity or placing stress on the bladder (laughing, coughing, working out, lifting heavy items).  A Kegel regimen can help to tone these muscles to prevent the leaks from happening.

Fecal Incontinence.

As with urinary incontinence, weakening of the pelvic floor muscles can also affect the anus and rectum, resulting in loss of bowel control. But, kegel exercises can help to tone and strengthen this area up as well to prevent bowel leakage.

Overactive Bladder.

You’ve probably seen a million pharmaceutical commercials for what’s known as Overactive Bladder – the urgent and frequent need to empty your bladder. When you have an overactive bladder, the muscles of the bladder contract involuntarily, creating an urgent need to urinate. Performing kegels can help improve control of these muscles, improving, or even eliminating the chance bladder leakage.

Urinary Retention.

Ever had difficulty starting a stream of urine? How about a weak flow, and the feeling that you need to urinate again right after you’ve finished? It could be urinary retention, which is usually caused by a blockage in the urinary tract, or nerve problems that interfere with signals between the brain and the bladder.  Bladder retraining is one method that can be used to help fix this, but kegels can also help the nerves and muscles used in emptying the bladder to work better.

Erectile Functioning.

Erectile Dysfunction, or ED, can be caused by many physical conditions (heart disease, diabetes), or can be the result of surgery (like prostate removal) or trauma. The good news is that you don’t have to resort to medications to treat it – kegel exercises can help strengthen your muscles in your pelvic region and regain normal function. In men, kegels specifically help strengthen the bulbocavernous muscle.  This is the muscle that is responsible for erections, contractions during orgasm and ejaculation, and emptying the urethra after urination. Studies have found that regular practice of kegels can keep this muscle strong, and if you’re experiencing problems, kegels may improve your symptoms.

Ejaculation & Orgasm. 

Again, this goes back to the bulbocavernous muscle – the stronger the muscle, the stronger the contractions you’ll have during orgasm. Enough said.

How do I do a kegel?

First, you need to locate the right muscles, which is often the hardest part. The next time you’re urinating, try stopping the flow mid-stream. If you can do that, you’ve found the right muscle. (But don’t do this on a regular basis – this should only be done when trying to locate the correct muscles.)

There are two types of kegel exercises that you can do to strengthen and tone your pelvic floor muscles.

Long Contractions.  Long Contractions work on the supportive strength of the muscles. To perform a long kegel contraction, tighten your pelvic muscles and hold for 5 seconds. This may be difficult at first – don’t worry if you can’t hold the contraction for the full five seconds. With practice you’ll be able to work up to this.

Overtime, work your way up to 10 seconds per contraction. Be sure to rest for 10 seconds in between each contraction – knowing how to relax your muscle is as important as the contraction.

Short Contractions.  Short contractions work the fast twitch muscles that work quickly to stop the flow of urine and prevent leaks. To perform a short contraction, tighten your muscles quickly, then release, and repeat.

When should I perform them?

Like any muscle, you don’t want to do too much too soon. Aim for 5 reps of both short and long contractions, 3x per day on your first day. As you gain more confidence and strength, work your way up to 10 reps, 3x per day of each.

It may take time to see changes, but consistency is key here. Continue practicing kegels and you should see improvements in 3-6 months. And, if you find that you need some help with kegels, talk to your doctor or physical therapist. They will be able to provide you with more personal instruction, which may include biofeedback therapy.

NAFC Launches New "Life Without Leaks" Campaign To Raise Awareness of Bladder Leakage/Incontinence

NAFC Launches Life Without Leaks Campaign To Raise Awareness Of Bladder Leakage and Incontinence

June 5, 2017, Charleston, SC:  The National Association For Continence launches new campaign, “Life Without Leaks”, to raise awareness of bladder leakage and urinary incontinence, and to urge people to seek treatment.

Laura’s bladder-leakage problem started early in life, shortly after she had kids. She would leak a little sometimes when she sneezed, ran, coughed or laughed, but just once in a while, and nothing to make her think it was a big deal. But as the years went by, Laura’s problem got worse. It progressed to the point to where she could not leave the house without packing an extra pair of clothes. She scouted out the nearest bathroom wherever she went. And she stopped doing some of the things that had mattered most to her – traveling with her husband, running, socializing with her friends and family. Slowly, her “little problem” had become it’s own prison – limiting Laura’s life and keeping her from doing the things she wanted.

Laura’s story is not uncommon. Millions of Americans live with some form of Bladder Leakage, yet few seek treatment for it. And while the issue may seem trivial to some, for those who struggle with bladder leakage and incontinence, it can be devastating. Apart from the obvious physical effects, bladder leakage can have a huge impact on emotional well-being. Many people are ashamed of the issue, and take great measures to hide it from friends, and even close family members.  As the condition worsens, people retreat further into their lives, limiting their social interaction for fear of having an accident. And the things they loved to do take a backseat to protecting their pride and hiding their problem from others.  Financial impact of the condition can also be damaging – the cost for supplies, productivity loss, and missed work can add up, causing even more distress.

NAFC’s new campaign, “Life Without Leaks”, is meant to show people that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – that they don’t have to live with bladder leakage and can take their life back again simply by getting educated and seeking treatment.  “We wanted to show people the life they may be missing due to bladder leakage – the one they may have even forgotten they once loved,” says Steven Gregg, Executive Director of NAFC.  “Urinary Incontinence is often a slow-building condition, getting worse as time goes by if left untreated. Many people who have it have made so many small adjustments over the years to compensate they may not even recognize what they’ve given up in order to hide their shame. We want to remind them of the life they once loved – to show them life is possible without leaks.”

NAFC launched the campaign’s first video in June, with more videos planned to launch through 2017. The campaign is supported through NAFC’s social channels, email, and their website. www.nafc.org. “We’re trying to raise awareness of this under-treated and little talked about condition,” says Gregg. “There are so many treatment options available for incontinence. We just need to get people to take that first step and seek them out.”

“Life Without Leaks”, has been funded through a sponsorship from Astellas.

Watch the “Life Without Leaks” first campaign video here, and follow along with the campaign on Facebook (www.facebook.com/BHealth.NAFC) or www.nafc.org/life-without-leaks

Men: Let's Talk About Bladder Leakage

Bladder Leakage And Men

You don’t really hear much about incontinence in men. Let’s face it – it’s not something that anyone ever really wants to talk about, but for men, it can be especially hard. Men are supposed to be tough. Caretakers. Leaders. Defenders. Admitting to something like incontinence can feel like a slap in the face. But it’s something that happens to everyone – not just women – and it isn’t something that anyone should have to live with. 

Unfortunately though, many do. As many as 15% of men living at home between the ages of 15-64 may have some type of incontinence.  

Men – if you struggle with bladder leakage, we urge you to speak up about it. This doesn’t mean shouting about it from the rooftops. But a frank discussion with your doctor or a loved one is a good start.

Here are 4 good reasons to talk to Someone about your incontinence:

You’ll get some emotional support.

Have you ever had something on your mind that weighed on you? Keeping your incontinence a secret can have big effects on your emotional well-being. Many people who live with incontinence become more reclusive as time goes on and the condition worsens. They avoid social activities, or don’t do the things they once enjoyed because they’re scared of having an embarrassing accident in public. But this can mean isolating themselves from others, and hurting some of their close relationships. 

Lean in to those close to you and let them know what’s going on. You’ll likely find that their support motivates you to take the next step in talking to your doctor, where you can finally find some treatment.  Still not ready to talk to someone close? Try our message boards. They're filled with lots of people who struggle with bladder leakage and can be a great resource when you need some tips on how to manage, thoughts on treatment options, or even when you just need a place to vent. Trust us, they know what you’re going through, and are a wonderful and caring community where you can share your concerns without judgment.

You can find out what’s actually causing Your bladder leaks.

In most cases, incontinence is not the real condition – it’s a symptom of something else.  Talking to a professional about it may help you uncover the true source of what’s going on, which could be something that’s easily treated, or something that’s far more serious than some light bladder leakage. Either way, finding out is better than living in the dark, and will help you get the treatment you need to be on your way to recovery.

You’ll learn about the incontinence treatments options available to you.

We’ve come a long way from adult diapers being the only treatment option. While absorbent products are still great management tools, there are many things you can do to actually treat the symptoms and avoid leaks all together. Diet and exercise changes, kegels (yes - they're good for men too!), medications, minimally invasive procedures, and even surgical options all exist. Learning more about your options will help you find something that works for you and your lifestyle, and can feel very empowering.

There’s no good reason not to discuss it.

With so many treatment options available to you these days, there’s really not a reason to stay silent. Yes, it will probably be an uncomfortable discussion at first, but it’s not one that your doctor hasn’t had before.  They hear from men who have this problem all the time. Talk with them and begin getting treatment so that you can get back to the activities you once enjoyed, instead of worrying about your bladder.

NAFC has some great resources that can help you as you begin getting treatment. Check them out below:

NAFC Bladder Diary

Talking about Incontinence

OAB Resource Center

Bedwetting Guide

Video Roundup – Four Inspiring Stories Of People Who Have Overcome Neurogenic Bladders

4 Inspiring Stories of People Who Have Overcome Neurogenic Bladder

Becoming paralyzed or learning that you have MS or another neurological condition is anyone’s worst nightmare. The everyday freedoms that most of us take for granted suddenly become the main focus of life and things that were easy before become monumentally more difficult. We’ve rounded up stories from 4 inspiring people who have overcome tremendous obstacles and are determined to live life on their own terms. Watch their amazing stories in the links below.

Botox Injections For Neurogenic Bladder

Watch this self-taped video from Paralyzed Living about how he uses Botox injections to treat his neurogenic bladder.

Daniela’s Story

Watch Daniela’s inspiring story of how a freak accident left her a quadriplegic, unable to use her legs, and limited use of her arms and hands. Daniela struggled with bladder management, and finally took matters into her own hands by conducting extensive research into her options and finding a solution that has helped her regain her independence.

Audrey’s story

Audrey became paralyzed after an accident and suffered from bowel issues, but found the freedom to do what she wants from using Peristeen, a product for bowel management.

Amy’s Story

MS can wreak havoc on your bladder, resulting in urgent and frequent trips to the restroom, and in some cases, leakage. Watch this story from Amy, on how she used Botox to help her regain control.

Amy’s Video Diary – Before:  

Amy’s Video Diary – After:

Do you have your own story you’d like to share? Contact us!

Our Favorite Avocado Recipe: Guacamole!

Our Favorite Avocado Recipe: Guacamole!

It’s National MS Month and we’re celebrating by whipping up a snack that’s super good for you – especially if you have MS. Avocados are a terrific source of healthy unsaturated fat and are chock full of antioxidants. In fact, a 2013 study from Food and Function found that avocados are so good for you that they may counteract other foods that are, well, not so good for you. Subjects were fed either a plain hamburger patty, or one with avocado. Those who ate the plain burger showed a spike of IL-6 (a protein that is a measure of inflammation) four hours after it was eaten, however those who ate the burger with avocado saw little change in IL-6 over the same 4 hours. Plus, triglyceride levels (which, when elevated, can contribute to diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease) also did not rise after eating the burger with avocado (more than after eating the burger alone), despite the added fat and calories of the avocado.

There are tons of great ways to take advantage of this super food – toss some slices atop a sandwich, throw them in a salad, or, our personal favorite, whip up a delicious side of guacamole. 

The Best guacamole Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 large ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1 chopped tomato (seeds removed)
  • 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1 chopped jalapeño pepper (omit this if you don’t like the heat)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro

Directions

In a large bowl, mix the chopped avocado, lime juice cumin, garlic, and salt. Then fold in the tomato, red pepper jalapeño, red onion, and cilantro. Serve with chips, on top of a burger, or as a dip for veggies.

What Is Neurogenic Bladder?

What Is Neurogenic Bladder?

Having a neurological condition presents many challenges, but one that few people likely think about until they are dealing with it is how the condition may affect your ability to use the restroom. Like many organs, the bladder is controlled by nerves that connect to your brain and spinal cord. When these functions are challenged due to a neurological condition, it can cause a person to have a neurogenic bladder.

What is Neurogenic Bladder?

Neurogenic bladder happens when there is a lack of bladder control due to a brain, spinal cord or nerve problem. Typically, the bladder has two functions – storing urine, and removing it from the body. These functions are controlled by communication in the spinal cord and brain. When a person’s nerves, brain or spinal cord become injured, the way they communicate with the bladder can become compromised.

There are two types of neurogenic bladder: the bladder can become overactive (spastic or hyper-reflexive), or under-active (flaccid or hypotonic).

With an overactive bladder, patients experience strong and frequent urges to use the bathroom, and sometimes have trouble making it in time, resulting in urinary incontinence.

In an under-active bladder, the sphincter muscles may not work correctly and may stay tight when you are trying to empty your bladder, resulting in urinary retention (producing only a small amount of urine) or obstructive bladder (when you are unable to empty your bladder at all). In either case, treatment is available.

What Causes Neurogenic Bladder?

Neurogenic bladder can be caused by a number of conditions. Some children are born with neurogenic bladder. Children born with spina bifida (when the fetus’ spine does not completely develop during the first month of pregnancy), sacral agenesis (when lower parts of the spine are missing), or cerebral palsy (a disorder that weakens a person’s ability to control body movement and posture) all may suffer from neurogenic bladder due to their conditions. Other medical conditions that may cause neurogenic bladder are Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), spinal cord injury, stroke, or central nervous system tumors.

What Are The Treatment Options For Neurogenic Bladder?

Luckily, there are many treatment options for neurogenic bladder. Treatments vary depending on whether you have overactive bladder or urinary retention. To learn about treatments for these conditions, click through the links below.

Treatments for Overactive Bladder

Treatments for Urinary Retention

A neurogenic bladder doesn’t have to limit your life. Don’t be afraid to explore your options and find a treatment that works for you.

Do you have a neurogenic bladder? Tell us about your experience in the comments below – we’d love to hear about treatment options that have worked for you!