Are you pregnant? Congratulations! Are you leaking urine? You are not alone. Wetting yourself and leaking urine during pregnancy is not uncommon. Pregnancy and childbirth increase the risk of incontinence.
Urinary leakage during pregnancy
Because of the extra weight you carry during pregnancy, the pressure on your pelvic floor and bladder increases. The bladder cannot hold as much urine as usual and you need to urinate more often, perhaps even at night. This is because during the day you accumulate fluid in your legs and feet, and when you lie down at night this fluid is distributed back into your bloodstream.
You also have extra hormones that affect the tissues and muscles in your body, and prior to labour, the muscles in your pelvic floor become softer and more elastic and your ligaments are stretched and loosened. After delivery, the ligaments and muscles usually return to their normal state, but this can take time. 1 in 3 women who are pregnant for the first time experience temporary stress urinary incontinence. In repeated pregnancies, as many as 3 out of 4 are affected. Stress urinary incontinence means that you urinate when you sneeze or cough, for example. Read more about stress incontinence here!
Urine leakage or amniotic fluid?
Leaking amniotic fluid during pregnancy is not very common. However, if you do experience leakage during pregnancy, it is probably urine, or watery discharge. What is the difference between urine and amniotic fluid? Urine smells different from amniotic fluid. Some people think amniotic fluid smells like the sea. Urine smells like - urine! And it's also slightly yellowish, so if you use a panty liner and it looks slightly yellowish, it's most likely urine. The flow of amniotic fluid cannot be controlled like the flow of urine. If you are worried that you are leaking amniotic fluid, you should always contact your healthcare provider, such as your midwife.
Urinary leakage after pregnancy
The muscles in your pelvic floor will be stretched after giving birth. It normally takes a while for them to contract, become strong and return to their pre-pregnancy position. At the same time, your body needs to get rid of the fluids it has accumulated during pregnancy. This means you have to pee more often than normal, and you may leak urine. The body is amazing and most people return to normal continence some time after giving birth, but you may need a little patience and help along the way with pelvic floor exercises
, for example. Returning to your pre-pregnancy weight within 6 months of giving birth has also been shown to reduce the risk of urine leakage after pregnancy.
Tense pelvic floor
Just like a weakened pelvic floor can cause problems with peeing, so can a tense pelvic floor. An imbalance is created in the pelvic floor when the muscles there are constantly tense and it can be painful. The muscles are not able to withstand too much abdominal pressure, such as when coughing, sneezing or jumping
, and you may leak urine. If you have a tense pelvic floor, practising relaxation instead of squeezing may help.