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Why does incontinence happen after birth?

It’s probably no surprise to learn that a woman’s body changes significantly during pregnancy. Some are very obvious, such as an incredible increase in belly size, breast size and weight gain. Then there’s skin changes, hair thickness changes because of a boost from the oestrogen hormone. Some women even report moving up a shoe size.1

However, there are some less obvious ones happening inside the body, as it prepares everything for the (hopefully perfect) arrival of a newborn.

There are a number of ‘pregnancy’ hormones, each with a specific job to do, and one of those jobs is to make the tissues and joints, particularly in the pelvic area more elastic. During delivery, the ligaments and muscles that support the bladder are stretched.2

Perhaps you’ve heard about the ‘pelvic floor’ (or been advised to do Kegel or pelvic floor exercises).

The pelvic floor is the band of muscles that stretch across the bottom of your abdomen, from your tailbone (coccyx) to your pubic bone. These muscles support organs including your uterus, bladder and bowel.

As well as being softened by the pregnancy hormones, the pelvic floor muscles work even harder during pregnancy because they also have to support the weight of the growing baby.

In simple terms, when pelvic floor muscles are weakened, it can create incontinence issues – which is why you’ve probably heard all about Kegels or pelvic floor muscle training if you attended antenatal classes.

The goal with pelvic floor exercises is to increase the strength or tone of the muscles so that the bladder is well supported and muscle sphincter that prevents leakage is in good shape.

A web search for pelvic floor or Kegel exercises will show you how they are done.

However, there are a number of devices that have now been developed to help make the exercise process easier.

EMS is an acronym for Electrical Muscle Stimulation. It has become a well-established method for treatment of pelvic floor weakness as it stimulates the nerves causing the pelvic floor muscles to contract. These muscle contractions retrain the muscles, increase their effectiveness, and improve their condition to build strength and tone, allowing users to develop their own muscle control.

Pelvic Floor Exercisers send gentle electrical muscle stimulation directly to the pelvic floor muscles through a discreet probe to help strengthen/tone or soothe these muscles.

Your health professional will advise you whether this product is suitable for you/ your condition. Always read & follow the instructions for use & health warnings. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional. Do not use with any electronic medical devices e.g. pacemakers.

Sources:

  1. https://www.livescience.com/50877-regnancy-body-changes.html
  2. https://www.parents.com/pregnancy/my-body/postpartum/urinary-incontinence/
  3. https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/pelvic-floor-pre-during-pregnancy-birth-exercises-physiotherapist
  4. https://www.continence.org.au/about-continence/continence-health/pelvic-floor

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