I recently learned that public urination could be considered a sexual offense. I guess I’m grateful the police were not around the 5,000 times I wet myself laughing or sneezing in public post-baby. Urinary incontinence has to be one of the most annoying and embarrassing side effects of pregnancy! I, like many, made the mistake of thinking that as soon as I delivered that 8.2lb weight of love sitting on my bladder, the peeing in my pants would cease….sadly it did not. I was at a loss. I did my Kegels religiously as the Dr. instructed (Kegel=using muscles to stop the flow of urine), yet still the flow was free.
It wasn’t until I visited a Physical Therapist who specializes in Women’s Health that I learned how we are actually meant to do Kegels. It has NOTHING to do with stopping the flow of urine. It has to do with recruiting the muscles of the pelvic floor in a way that draws the muscles together and then lifting them to create strength. She cued me to “imagine the muscles between the two sits bones. Take a breath in, then, as you exhale draw the muscles together like elevator doors closing. When the doors are closed, lift the elevator up. Repeat, with the muscles between the pubic bone and the tailbone. Now, draw all 4 of the points together and lift.” (see image below for pelvic points of origin) Not only did I not “get it” until maybe the 50th attempt, it was completely different from anything I had ever been instructed to do in the past. What I had been doing felt like just squeezing my vagina. She explained that a Kegel done in the way that I had learned, just stopping the flow of urine, can cause tightening of the wrong muscles, which in turn can lead to urinary incontinence and painful sex. I was ecstatic about learning the correct way to do a Kegel and the prospect of no longer needing to bring back-up panties and pants everywhere I went!
I went to work as I had done before and religiously performed my Kegels. I can report that I no longer have urinary incontinence! In addition to staying dry, my newly found pelvic floor strength also alleviated much of my back pain and sacroiliac joint dysfunction.
*It is important to note that not all cases of urinary incontinence are a result of pelvic floor weakness. In some cases it is a result of some muscles being too tight. Look for a Physical Therapist Specializing in Women’s Health or Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation in your area for an assessment.