If you dribble a little when you run, laugh, or sneeze, you’re hardly alone.
By Liz Krieger
If you’ve noticed that during working out–or even just during a good, hard laugh or sudden sneeze–you leak a small amount of urine, you’re not alone. (The sneezing one? That’s called “peezing.”) Welcome to a condition called “postpartum stress incontinence,” which may sound embarrassing, probably because of the word incontinence. But you’re hardly alone: one study found that 33 percent of women may have this at some point.
Why are you suddenly feeling like you might need a diaper as much as your little one does? Well, pregnancy puts pressure and strain on the muscles of the pelvic floor, which also support the bladder. Those muscles can get weakened over time, by both the growth of the baby, and by the pressure of pushing during labor, and this affects bladder control, even after your baby is out in the world.
Here’s what to do to reduce your accidental-pee problem:
- See your doctor. You’ll want to rule out any more serious conditions and develop an effective treatment plan. Your doctor may suggest you begin working with a pelvic floor physical therapist (yup, it’s a thing, and it works!).
- Keep a change of underwear handy. We recommend stocking a spare pair in your purse and your diaper bag.
- If you haven’t done Kegel exercises lately, now is the time to start. This move can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Tighten your pelvic muscles as if you are trying to pull up from the back of your vaginaut (a lot of advice tells you to think about stopping peeing mid-stream, but that cue is actually too far forward and can engage different muscles). Hold the muscles tight for a few seconds and then release. Repeat 10 times. You may do these exercises anywhere and at any time, because no one can tell you’re doing them–we recommend every time you’re at a stop light as a reminder.
- Visit the loo–a lot. Urinate every 30 minutes (before you have the urge, in other words) and then try to extend the time between pees each day.
- Keep drinking at least eight glasses of fluids every day. Cutting back on water to control the peeing only makes you vulnerable to dehydration and urinary tract infections.