Is It Normal to Have Incontinence After Giving Birth? Managing Post-Pregnancy Urine Leakage

After nine long months, your little bundle of joy has finally arrived.

Your waistline is back,

You can see your feet again,

You can wear “real” clothes; and

Every time you cough, laugh, or sneeze … you leak pee.

You’re wondering, “Is this something I should be concerned about? Is incontinence normal after giving birth?” 

We discuss why you may be experiencing post-pregnancy urine leakage, when you should see a doctor, and ideas for dealing with urinary incontinence.

incontinence normal after giving birth

Table of Contents

Is Incontinence Normal After Giving Birth?

According to the founder of ONDRwear incontinence underwear, urologist and mother, Dr. Jessica Lubahn, MD … 

Incontinence isn't normal — but it is very common.

In fact, one study revealed that during the first 3 months after giving birth, 33% of women suffer from at least some degree of postpartum incontinence.

If you’re dealing with bladder leakage after childbirth, you’re definitely not alone. 

is incontinence normal after giving birth

5 Reasons You May Experience Incontinence Following Birth

There are all sorts of reasons a woman might experience incontinence following birth, including:

  • The weight of the baby during pregnancy
  • Whether they had a quick or extended labor
  • Their post-delivery body mass index (BMI)
  • The natural process of delivering a baby
  • The need for forceps or a vacuum in an assisted vaginal delivery

#1: The Weight of Pregnancy

Your body grew a tiny human! (Although, it may not have felt so tiny at the time.)

As your baby grew, your ever-expanding uterus put a TON of pressure on your bladder underneath. That's why you may have leaked a little pee every time you sneezed, laughed, or bent over to put on your shoes.

And as your baby grew bigger and bigger — the space for your bladder became smaller and smaller. 

So, it stands to reason that, once you deliver, it may take your bladder a while to bounce back into its size and normal place.

#2: Prolonged Labor

Urinary incontinence following birth is higher among women who had a vaginal delivery than those who delivered via C-section (although this doesn't mean we're promoting an increase in C-sections.)

One of the reasons for this may be that women who choose the natural childbirth method of delivery are encouraged to labor as long as they, and their baby, need.

Normally, this is just fine, but, sometimes, the long labor and extended push-time can weaken the muscles in your pelvic floor muscles that support your bladder. If this happens, you may have a greater risk of post-pregnancy urine leakage.

#3: Your BMI

Research on the topic of incontinence has shown that mamas who have a high body mass index (BMI), or those who retain pregnancy weight gain six months after giving birth, are more likely to experience post-pregnancy urine leakage.

On the other hand, the ability to lose weight after having your baby decreases your risk of experiencing incontinence following birth, even if other urinary incontinence risk factors (such as diet, weak pelvic floor muscles, etc.) remain.

#4: The Natural Birthing Process 

Anyone who has ever delivered a baby is well aware that pregnancy causes some pretty dramatic changes in a mom’s anatomy — and in her hormones.

As your baby makes its way down your birth canal and through your vagina, the muscles in your pelvic floor have to streeeeetch — and stay that way for what can feel like an eternity. 

Combine that insane amount of stretching with the changing hormones of delivery, and can lead to some serious bladder leakage. 

#5: Assisted Vaginal Delivery 

Undergoing an assisted vaginal delivery, where either forceps or a vacuum is used to help get the baby out, can damage the muscles in your pelvic floor. 

One study showed that the use of forceps is associated with a significant increase in long-term risk of stress urinary incontinence, as compared with other methods of vaginal delivery.

incontinence normal after birth

How Long Does Urinary Incontinence Last After Childbirth?

Post-pregnancy urine leakage is common in new moms, but incontinence can also develop in the months and years after childbirth — with some women not experiencing problems until they reach their 40s. 

How long incontinence following birth lasts will depend on various factors, such as the:

  • Length of labor
  • Type of delivery; and
  • Mother’s BMI

When Should You See Your Doctor for Bladder Leakage After Childbirth?

In general, if you're still having post-pregnancy urine leakage at 6 weeks postpartum, you will want to consider making an appointment with a female pelvic health specialist.

They may suggest several helpful options, including:

  • Wearing incontinence underwear
  • Doing bladder training
  • Keeping a close eye on what you eat and drink; or
  • Seeing a specialist to begin pelvic floor exercises

4 Ways to Deal With Post-Pregnancy Urine Leakage

We’ve examined some reasons why you may be leaking pee after giving birth, now let's take a look at some common ways of dealing with the problem of urinary incontinence.

#1: Incontinence Underwear

One of the best preventative measures you can take against the embarrassment of bladder leakage after childbirth is wearing special incontinence underwear, like ONDRwear.

ONDRwear washable undies are super comfy and feel just like the real thing. Plus, they … 

  • Protect against embarrassing leaks
  • Can be tossed in the washing machine
  • Are hypoallergenic
  • Are naturally odor-free 

And, they come in all your favorite styles and can be worn discreetly under just about any clothing — just like your regular underwear.

is incontinence normal after giving birth

#2: Bladder Training

Feeding your baby.

Changing diapers.

Baths.

Daily walks.

Mamas schedule all sorts of things for their babies — but bladder training is something you’ll schedule just for you. 

If you’re struggling with bladder incontinence after giving birth, scheduled potty breaks are something you may want to seriously consider.

Bladder training involves planning out your trips to the bathroom. So you will be sitting down to pee at set times throughout your day — whether you feel the urge or not. Look at it as potty training for grownups.

Bladder training may help ease your incontinence by:  

  • Giving you better control over the urge to pee
  • Lengthening the amount of time between potty trips; and
  • Gradually upping the amount of pee your bladder can hold

If you decide to give scheduled bathroom trips a try, be sure to stick with them. Sometimes it can take from three to 12 weeks of bladder training before you start to notice the results.

#3: Diet

Did you know that some foods and drinks can irritate your bladder and throw it into a full-blown tantrum?

Here are just a few of the main offenders you will want to stay away from:

  • All things spicy 
  • Chocolate
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Tomatoes or tomato-based items
  • Citrus fruits, including lemons, and limes
  • Alcohol, including wine and champagne 
  • Orange juice
  • Apple juice
  • Tea, including green, black, and decaf
  • Coffee, even decaf
  • Caffeinated drinks

#4: Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic floor physical therapy can be a great way to retrain your pelvic muscles’ strength and memory. 

During pelvic floor PT, a physical therapist identifies areas of weakness in the muscles of your … 

  • Abdomen
  • Hips; and 
  • Pelvic floor

The exercises they may suggest, such as … 

  • Squats
  • Bridges
  • Diaphragmatic breathing 
  • Posterior pelvic tilts; and 
  • Kegels 

… are a girl's best friend if you’re leaking pee after giving birth, and will give you more control over your ability to hold your urine in. 

is incontinence normal after giving birth

ONDRwear Incontinence Underwear Keeps You Feeling Fresh and Clean Throughout Pregnancy and Beyond

If you're looking for bladder protection for pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond, look no further than ONDRwear.

Created by urologist and mom, Dr. Jessica Lubahn, MD, ONDRwear panties are:

  • Leakproof
  • Machine washable
  • Naturally odor-free
  • Lightweight; and
  • Moisture-wicking 

And just in case you're envisioning a pair of dumpy undies, think again.

ONDRwear comes in:

  • Thong
  • Bikini
  • Boy-shorts; and 
  • High-waisted briefs

And get this. Not only is ONDRwear perfect for protecting your clothes from leaking pee after giving birth, but it also doubles as the comfy period panties you've always dreamed of.

ONDRwear undies keep you dry before, during, and after pregnancy. 

What have you got to lose… besides embarrassing leaks and wet clothes? 

Give ONDRwear incontinence underwear a try today!

is incontinence normal after giving birth