Thursday, August 28, 2008

No laughing, sneezing, or coughing...

A few nights ago, my husband and I decided to go for a walk. It was a beautiful night. The sun was setting, the kids were sitting quietly in the stroller, and the breeze was gently blowing. It was seemingly perfect. We decided to go for a long walk, since it was such a nice evening and all.

I just love this time of year. Really, I do. But did I mention the blowing breeze? Yeah...what started as a refreshing breath of fresh air turned into an allergy-inducing, I-want-to-rip-my-itchy-eyeballs-out-of-their-sockets kind of a breeze.

And then the sneezing began. We would walk a few steps, then I would turn to my husband and say, "Hold on. I need to sneeze." So we would stop, I would (while standing) cross my legs, and sneeze. Then we'd proceed. That is, until I had to sneeze again. Then the ritual would continue. Stop. Cross legs. Sneeze. Try not to let any dribbles out. My husband never asked about my sneezing ritual, so I never explained. I don't know if he'd really *get* it, anyway.

But since Fit Me Pink has been on my mind a lot lately, I thought...what better way to introduce myself to our new readers than to talk about my personal issues in the nether regions, with hopes that someone, somewhere can relate.

Urinary incontinence isn't a disease, but it is a sometimes persistent condition affecting women (and I suppose men, but I won't delve into that) that can and should be treated. In my case, the cause is pregnancy and childbirth (although I do remember laughing so hard I pee'd my pants pre-babies). This type is called stress incontinence, due to hormonal changes (yep, my hormones are crazzzzzy during pregnancy) and a growing uterus. The added stress of a vaginal delivery can also weaken the pelvic floor muscles (as if we need more to deal with besides a newborn baby!), so when added pressure (caused by laughing, sneezing, coughing, lifting weights, etc.) is placed on the bladder (especially when it's full), watch out (and keep your legs crossed!)

Strengthening the Pelvic Floor Muscles

You've probably all heard of kegel exercises, right? These are SO SO SO important to do...before getting pregnant, during pregnancy, and after. Every woman will benefit from them. Luckily my husband saw me give birth both times, so seeing me pee my pants wouldn't have phased him. Other people aren't so forgiving! Luckily we went on our little allergy-inducing walk, so I could remember that I too need these! (By the way, mom, if you're reading, I'm not in depends *real* need to worry...just an occasional post-sneeze dribble when my bladder's already full!)

Anyway, a popular way to identify the pelvic floor muscles is to stop pee-ing mid pee. And then start again. Got it? So contract the muscles to stop, and release the muscles to restart. Once you've mastered this, try to perform the same contraction without urinating in sets. Here are a few techniques I found here.

Quick pumps: do 15 reps of quick pumps, pause for 30 seconds and repeat. Start at 15 and work your way up to 100 reps two times a day.

Hold and release: contract the muscle slowly and hold for 5 seconds, release slowly. Work your way to at least 25 reps two times a day.

Elevator: slowly contract 1/3 of the way, pause, then 2/3 of the way, pause, then all the way. Do 10 reps two times a day.

Phew. That's hard work! Anyway, I hope I didn't scare you all off with all this potty talk. I promise it won't always be this way! Come back soon! And try not to laugh, sneeze, or cough until you've practiced what we talked about. And please hit us up in the comments with your experiences, what kegel methods have worked for you, what helps you remember to do them, and any other insights. (Also let me know that you still want to be friends even though I occasionally wet my pants!)

Until next time...


Melissa said...

I sadly had this problem after Nicky's birth. I tried to go running and had to keep stopping every three minutes to use the bathroom. Luckily this problem went away on its own. With Andy, I had the c-section so no such problem. There are some advantages to the horizontal scar I guess! I can never know if I'm doing the Kegals right and there is no one to ask and I probably never do them long enough to do any good.

Christie said...

Yeah, not too long after I had Hannah, I went out to jump on our trampline.

It was the first and last time I ever did that.

Kristin said...

It's a good thing I went to the bathroom before reading your post...enough said! Thanks for the reminder, we can all use more kegels, right?

Missy said...

I'm glad you talked about this. I have had overactive bladder since I was a small child. It's not the exact same thing as incontinence, but add three kids (though I did do all three as c-sections) and it definately compounds things. Keigal exercises help a lot.

Aly said...

Well.....Where shall I begin? Yeah. Kegels are excellent, wish I'd done thousands of 'em! LUCKILY I don't have the peeing my pants problem, but I think I would take that over what I do have:) I'm not sure if I should even go into details of why EVERY woman really should remember to do kegels, but hey what the heck....

All of those ligaments down there that are exercized by kegels can become weak and tear during child birth which can then lead to your bladder and uterus falling down out of place (and in some cases your intestines)! The technical terms are "prolapsed bladder" and "prolapsed uterus". They "prolapse" (or herniate) into your vaginal canal. Makes wearing tampons interesting (and other things that I won't mention:)

After finding out that this had happened to me the doctor said, "do some kegels" it might fix such luck. I also found out that it is really common, I learned that four of my friends had the same problem.

The only way to remedy this is to have a bladder repair along with a hysterectimy (sp?).

On the exercizing side of things....I'm taking up swimming, because so far (in my case) I can't run (or I bleed) I can't jump around or do aerobics (feels like my bladder will fall out), and I can't lift weights, because it is a hernia and it makes it worse. So the moral of the story is...YES do your kegels!!!

Sorry, not only did this turn into a novel, but it was also probably way too much info:)

Fit Me Pink said...

Aly--thank you so much for sharing! GEEZ!!! I didn't realize that kegels could've helped that! I'm going to start doing them 10 times a day! I'm glad I'm not the only one confessing embarrassing stuff here!

Marci & Marcus said...

Okay Robyn, did you post this because I peed my pants (and the gym floor actually) while trying to do jumping jacks? And no, for those of you wondering, it was not in grade school, it was like last week!! UGGGGGGGHHHH! Thanks for the info though, I'm not the only one who has to get the intercom for "clean up in the gym!"