How Is Urinary Incontinence During Pregnancy Treated?
Behavioral methods such as timed voiding and bladder training can be helpful in treating urinary incontinence during and after pregnancy. These techniques are often used first and can be done at home. The changes in habits that behavioral methods involve do not have serious side effects.
To practice timed voiding, you use a chart or diary to record the times that you urinate and when you leak urine. This will give you an idea of your leakage "patterns" so that you can avoid leaking in the future by going to the bathroom at those times.
In bladder training, you "stretch out" the intervals at which you go to the bathroom by waiting a little longer before you go. For instance, to start, you can plan to go to the bathroom once an hour. You follow this pattern for a period of time. Then you change the schedule to going to the bathroom every 90 minutes. Eventually you change it to every two hours and continue to lengthen the time until you are up to three or four hours between bathroom visits.
Another method is to try to postpone a visit to the bathroom for 15 minutes with the first urge. Do this for two weeks and then increase the amount of time to 30 minutes and so on.
In certain cases, devices can be used to block the urethra or to strengthen the pelvic muscles. In addition, medications also can be helpful in controlling muscle spasms in the bladder or strengthening the muscles in the urethra. Some drugs can help to relax an overactive bladder.
What Are Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises are another method that can be used to help control urinary incontinence. These exercises help tighten and strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can improve the function of the urethra and rectal sphincter.
One way to find the Kegel muscles is to sit on the toilet and begin urinating. Then stop urinating mid-stream. The muscles that you use to stop the flow of urine are the Kegel muscles. Another way to help locate the Kegel muscles is to insert a finger into the vagina and try to make the muscles around your finger tighter.
To perform Kegel exercises, you should:
- Keep your abdominal, thigh, and buttocks muscles relaxed
- Tighten the pelvic floor muscles
- Hold the muscles until you count to 10
- Relax the pelvic floor muscles until you count to 10
Do 10 Kegel exercises in the morning, afternoon, and at night. They can be done anytime -- while driving or sitting at your desk. Women who do Kegel exercises tend to see results in four to six weeks.