Urinary Incontinence During Pregnancy

-A conversation with Dr. Nazima Parveen


Are there different types of urinary incontinence?
It is quite common for women to develop urinary incontinence during pregnancy. There can be either stress incontinence which is leaking urine with a cough, sneeze, laugh, exercise (including running, jumping, lifting weights) or it can be urge incontinence which is a strong overwhelming desire to urinate and losing control before reaching the bathroom.

Why does urinary incontinence occur?
Reason being, the extra weight of the unborn baby and the pressure of the uterus on the bladder. This is why most women develop incontinence usually in their third trimester. Sometimes it persists even after pregnancy because of hormonal changes and childbirth weakens the pelvic floor muscles, and weak pelvic floor muscles can cause an overactive bladder. Also, nerves that control the bladder can be damaged during birth, or the urethra and bladder may have shifted during pregnancy. Another thing to be noted is that if bladder control and pelvic floor muscle strength is weak heading into a pregnancy, then it will be more problematic as the pregnancy progresses. Also it is more common in women with a high BMI, or who are overweight.

Can urinary incontinence be stopped?
Good news is this situation can be improved and controlled with exercise. Women are usually advised to do pelvic floor exercises to strengthen the muscles that control urination and reduce the risk of stress incontinence. In order to exercise the muscles, women should pretend they are trying to stop the flow of urine, holding this squeeze for about ten seconds. This should be repeated for three or four sets of ten contractions each day in order to strengthen the pelvic floor musculature. Results will not be seen immediately, but women should start to notice the benefits within a few weeks. Also doing Kegal exercises is essential for strengthening the pelvic floor, and should be done on a daily basis regardless of whether you are or are not pregnant.

If the problem persists, please consult a doctor and do not put up with it.

-A conversation with Dr. Nazima Parveen
(Consultant Obstetrician and Gynecologist – Ovum Hospitals)