When it comes to what to expect from our for our postpartum or aging bodies, we’ve heard it all. From saggy breasts (RIP perky boobs) to odd phenomena like bigger feet, the list is seemingly endless. But the one thing NOBODY warns you about (thanks a lot mom) is, drum roll please… BLADDER LEAKS
Yep, with the gift of our little ones, or big ones for that matter, comes the unfortunate loss of bladder control. Unless you’re Elastigirl and your body can magically return to its prior state after being stretched to fit a tiny human or you’re immune to the effects of time, then your pelvic floor likely isn’t the same as it used to be. There’s a reason the movie is called THE INCREDIBLES.
The reality is having bladder leakage after giving birth is actually a lot more common than you might think. 1 in 4 women over the age of 18 experience leaks worldwide(1). That’s 25% of ALL women! So why then do we shy away from the topic like it’s 8th grade gym class and we’re embarrassed to admit that we have our periods?
It’s about time we get real with this issue. If you’ve had a child, naturally or not, you probably know the fear and embarrassment that bladder leaks can cause. Any sudden movement has the potential to send you into a state of paralyzed panic. One squat in Pilates and you’ve instantly become Old Faithful (or shall we say unfaithful) and feel like every person in the room is watching you as the geyser erupts.
It’s frustrating. It’s uncomfortable. And it can be straight up mortifying. So how do we cope?
Here Are 10 Things We Do To Deal With Bladder Leaks:
1. Cross Your Legs When You Cough, Laugh, or God Forbid, SNEEZE:
If you ask me, the Legally Blonde “Bend and snap” has got nothing on the “Cross and sneeze”. It’s the move we instinctively do when we feel a tickle in our nose or an uncontrollable laugh coming on. Cross. Squeeze. Sneeze!
2. Wear Black To Work out:
We’ve all done it. You’re walking through Target and spot a cute pair of light colored shorts. As soon as you impulsively go to grab them, it’s as if your bladder is that annoying best friend saying, “BAD IDEA”. So instead you opt for the thick black leggings because at least that way you know a leak won’t show through.
3. Manage You’re Liquid Intake
This one seems logical, right? If you drink less liquid then there won’t be anything in your bladder. Unfortunately, avoiding water may actually make you MORE LIKELY to leak. Say what?! Think about it, your body needs water to function properly. Without water to flush out your system, acids and bacteria can build up, ultimately aggravating your bladder and increasing urinary frequency.
4. Avoid Caffeine
Perhaps the most tragic part of having bladder leaks besides the leaks themselves is saying goodbye to your morning cup of joe. Your liquid life. Your brain juice. There’s nothing quite like a cup of piping hot goodness in the AM (or the afternoon, no judgment here). But the sad truth is that caffeine is both a diuretic and an irritant, so the more you drink the more you risk a little leakage.
5. Know the Location to the Nearest Restroom
Bladder leaks aren’t all bad though! If you have incontinence then you may have developed a new skill: knowing the location of every restroom within a 20-mile radius at all times. Pretty impressive huh? Okay, so maybe it isn’t a skill, but if there isn’t a bathroom around when you suddenly sneeze, sound the alarm because it’s DEFCON ONE, people!
6. Avoid All Trampolines and Jump Parks
Do you get a pit in your stomach when you see a bounce house at a kid’s birthday party? They say those things are like a death trap for children, but they really seem like torture chambers for moms. Jumping up and down to retrieve your 5-year-old is almost sure to turn this glorified balloon into a full-on slip n’ slide, and not the fun kind.
7. Always Carry An Extra Pair of Underwear
Let’s be honest. We’re still young. Which means we’d rather pack an extra pair of panties in our purse than stand next to the guy in the checkout line with a bulky bag of Depends in our cart. Not to mention that bathroom cabinet space is precious real-estate and we can’t afford to have it be overrun by large absorbent products.
8. Or Worse, Resort to Stuffing Your Underwear with Toilet Paper (See #5)
One of the most annoying things about bladder leaks, though, is that they’re almost always unexpected. Which means, more often than not, you find yourself unprepared when they strike. Maybe it will happen in your morning yoga class or when you’re walking the dog. Who knows? But in that moment, sometimes the only solution is to run to the nearest restroom and grab some good ol’ TP.
9. Do Kegel Exercises AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE
You’ve heard it millions of times, “DO YOUR KEGELS”. Well, I have some mind-blowing news. It turns out that Kegel exercises don’t necessarily work for everyone (GASP!). Yes, Kegels certainly can improve bladder control for some women and it’s worth a shot to try them, but for others they simply may not make much of a difference. Leakage not only happens when you have a weakened pelvic floor, but it can also occur when these muscles become too tight (aka a hypertonic pelvic floor). The result? Doing too many Kegels can make them too tired to function properly.
10. Let a Man Do the Heavy Lifting (NOT Because You Aren’t Strong, But Because You Just Might Leak):
We all know it’s got nothing to do with chivalry. Let’s face it. When you have bladder leakage, trying to pick up any heavy item (or, I don’t know, the 35 LB child begging you for a piggy back ride) is risky business. That sudden pressure could well make you drip things other than sweat. Sometimes you aren’t even trying to lift anything besides your own body weight when the flood gates open. Can I get an amen from my lady boss athletes out there who would love to do double unders without having bladder leaks put a damper on their exercise high?
What If We Didn’t Have to Do All These Crazy Things?
There you have it, all the crazy things we’ll do to stop our bladders from throwing a pee party. While I commend us all for our creativity when it comes to managing leaks, wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t have to stop doing the things that we love to avoid embarrassment? How about if we could wear whatever we want and feel CONFIDENT instead of worried? I’m talkin’, no more wet spots.
Well, I have a little secret. There’s a way you can do all of those things and never wear a pad. Ever. Again. That’s right, our nifty little Softpatch is an entirely different solution to stress urinary incontinence. It actually stops bladder leaks from happening. Let me repeat. IT STOPS BLADDER LEAKS. It doesn’t absorb anything.
With a soft foam body (like serious marshmallow level squishiness) and a hydrogel adhesive, the Finess Softpatch is placed over the urethral opening to create a gentle temporary seal. Once positioned correctly, it blocks any potential leaks from coming out. Awesome, right?
Let’s be honest, bladder leaks suck. You shouldn’t have to hold back or change the way you live out of fear or worry. Take control of your bladder instead of letting it take control of you!