(and returning to exercise safely after bub)
Running, sneezing, jumping, laughing – they should be normal activities, but for some women they bring embarrassment or anxiety. Bladder weakness, incontinence and urinary leaking are common problems, especially in women after giving birth or going through menopause. There are many causes of bladder weakness, but today, we’re focusing on one of the most common: Stress urinary incontinence (SUI).
What is stress urinary incontinence?
SUI is where the bladder leaks a small amount of urine during activities that put pressure on the abdomen and push down on the bladder, like coughing, running or laughing.
What causes it?
Stress incontinence in women is often caused by pregnancy, childbirth and menopause.
During pregnancy and childbirth, your pelvic floor muscles can stretch and weaken. The muscles support the urethra, when weak and under pressure, they can’t do their job properly and hold your wee in. Likewise during menopause, the female hormone oestrogen is produced in lower quantities. Oestrogen helps maintain the thickness of the urethra lining, so sometimes with decreased oestrogen, the lining is affected, and some women experience SUI.
How to treat it?
Every single person is different, therefore if you’re concerned it is best to see a professional. Our Womens Health Physio, Claire is specially trained to assess and create the best management plan for you. However, some common treatments we recommend to our clients include:
Pelvic floor exercises (see below for more information!).
Manual therapy: You may have some muscular imbalances that are inhibiting your pelvic floor from working properly or are impacting on other parts of your body. We’ll assess you, and then put together a treatment plan, which may include soft tissue massage, other musculoskeletal therapies, strengthening or stretching exercises, or more.
Bladder training: We may recommend a schedule for toileting, depending on the type of incontinence you have. This is more so used when it’s a mix of SUI and another type of incontinence.
Changes in fluid consumption: This could include drinking certain amounts of fluids at certain times of the day. Or it could involve cutting down caffeine or alcohol to see if they irritate your bladder.
Healthy lifestyle changes: Quitting smoking, losing excess weight or treating a chronic cough will decrease your risk of SUI, as well as improve your symptoms.
How do I prevent it?
Remember your physios, nurses, doctors, female relatives, mum friends (and the list goes on) telling you to do your pelvic floor exercises or Kegels when pregnant? Well, that’s one piece of advice you should listen to! In fact, it doesn’t matter whether you’re pregnant or not, you should always do your pelvic floor exercises to help strengthen those important muscles. Some basic pelvic floor exercises include:
Draw your pelvic floor muscles in and up, like you are trying to stop urinating mid-flow. Hold for 10 secs. Relax for 5-10 secs between each tightening and repeat 10 times. (Don’t actually do your pelvic floor exercises on the toilet – trying to stop while actually urinating can cause other bladder issues)
You can add faster pelvic floor lifts to the exercise by holding for 1-3 secs and relaxing for 1-3 secs. Repeat 10 times.
Progressing the long holds to 20 secs and then 30 secs may be a goal to reach for.
Try and make pelvic floor exercises part of your routine. For example, do them when you brush your teeth each morning and evening, and when eating lunch. There are also many more exercises to help you, including core exercises such as Pilates.
Pelvic floor exercises should not cause any discomfort or pain. If you have a history of pain with intercourse, vaginal exam or using tampons, or if you have trouble emptying your bladder or starting a wee, you should see a Pelvic Floor Physio prior to starting pelvic floor exercises.
It’s common for new mums to want some reassurance before returning to exercise.
What we can help with
Pre and post natal physiotherapy
Return to exercise + pelvic floor rehab
How we help:
Real time ultrasound
Pelvic floor screening and specific exercises
Meet Claire B. Mills
Womens Health is an exciting and growing industry. Through my experience in this area, I always aim to deliver an excellent health service, and make a positive change to the women in our community.
Since completing my degree, I have spend years honing my skills as a Womens Health Physiotherapist, working in a number of hospitals in Australia and the UK in their maternity departments - most recently, in the Northern Beaches Hospital. I am confident in my capability to assess and manage patients with pre and post natal impairments such as stress or urinary incontinence, rectus diastasis, pelvic pain/dysfunction and appropriate exercise programs in both the pre and post natal setting.
In my practice, I use the following:
- Realtime Ultrasound
- Pilates exercises
- Through external and internal examinations (as required)
Special offer for Northern Beaches Mums Community
As an Introductory Opening offer (now that we have open-end our doors at our new Harbord Diggers location), we are offering:
10-15 minute phone consultation with Claire to determine if this is a service that could benefit you.
50% Off Initial Appointment (if you’re ready to book in) - saving $90.
Simply pop your details below and we’ll give you a call to schedule your appointment, or clink any link to go to our bookings page.