Nearly 4.8 million Australians are affected by incontinence.
Women are more likely than men to be affected by bladder and bowel issues; the main contributing factors are vaginal labour, pregnancy and menopause. Over half of women who suffer from incontinence are under 50!
Facts on Incontinence
The incidence of urinary incontinence in pregnant women rises starkly from 10.8% in the first trimester to 55.9% in the final trimester. Urinary incontinence before pregnancy is associated with childhood incontinence (enuresis). Incontinence in pregnancy increases with higher body mass index in pregnancy.
Following pregnancy, there’s a 1 in 3 chance of urinary incontinence persisting. One thing is for certain; incontinence rarely goes away without some effort by a new mum.
Hands-on education is the key to recovery. Over a third of women get it wrong when trying to learn pelvic floor exercises by listening to instructions. Pelvic rehabilitation should begin early-on after having a baby to speed up recovery and get you ready for the return to pre-baby activities.
There’s an association between persistent abdominal separation and pelvic problems, including incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
Abdominal muscles separate in the last trimester to allow growth of the babe. Post-natally, muscle recovery varies greatly in women.
Some activities slow down the repair of the separation and should be avoided. These include:
- swinging kettlebells
Include Kegels in Your Daily Routine
It’s beneficial to learn the correct techniques for contracting your abdomen and pelvic muscles together. Pelvic muscle exercises are sometimes called Kegels.
Make pelvic floor exercises part of your day when you’re pregnant. These will help with issues during pregnancy and set a pattern for post-natal exercise when muscles are weaker.
There’s much debate about frequency and variety of contractions. I suggest mums make pelvic and abdominal exercise part of their daily routine rather than setting time aside to do these in isolation. With mums being so busy, it’s easier and better for such exercises to form part of your daily activities.
There are other issues faced by women in pregnancy and post-pregnancy, such as:
- Pelvic pain affecting the pubic joint
- Sacroiliac joint pain
- Coccyx and lower back pain
- Pain in wrists and hands, upper back and neck
These all respond well to manual therapy and exercise.