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Treating urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence is the unintentional passing of urine. It’s a common problem following pregnancy.

After giving birth, many women experience a form of incontinence called stress incontinence, where urine leaks when the bladder is under pressure (for example following coughing or laughing).

There are other forms of incontinence too, and it’s possible to experience a mixture of incontinence symptoms the same time, you can read about them here.

Stress incontinence happens when the muscles that prevent urination (such as the pelvic floor muscles and the urethral sphincter) are weakened or damaged. This can be caused by pregnancy and vaginal birth.

If you experience any form of urinary incontinence you should speak to a GP, who will be able to fully diagnose the problem and suggest ways to manage it.

Things you can do

Pelvic floor exercises

Strengthening the muscles in your pelvic floor is important due to the strain they come under during pregnancy and childbirth. If you’re experiencing stress incontinence, strengthening the muscles might help to ease the problem.

Pelvic floor exercises are recommended as soon as you find out that you’re pregnant, even if you’re young or do not currently suffer from stress incontinence.

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Using incontinence products

A wide range of products are available if you suffer from urinary incontinence, from absorbent pads that soak up leakages to appliances and bedding for more severe leaks.

You should avoid using sanitary pads for incontinence as they are more likely to stay damp and make your skin sore, instead use pads designed for incontinence.

Speak to your health visitor or GP if you’re experiencing incontinence.

Useful links

NHS: Urinary incontinence

Page last reviewed: 25-05-2022

Next review due: 25-05-2025