However, if you think about the trauma and stretching involved with pushing a baby through the birth canal, isn't that tremendous? How we manage to make it happen is still life's greatest miracle.
Incontinence is not a problem unless it lasts past the 12-week mark. Then, you have a problem that needs addressing.
Incontinence symptoms after pregnancy involve feeling like you can't hold your bladder, leaking before you can get to the bathroom. Some women also experience an overactive bladder response that increases "urge incontinence," increasing the frequency of the urge to go to the bathroom.
All these incontinence issues come down to one core problem: a loss in the control of the pelvic floor. During childbirth, the vaginal canal and the pelvic floor go through significant trauma that results in a loss of muscular control. As a result, incontinence symptoms may start to present.
The rate of recovery has a direct link to the health of the pelvic floor. If you go into the birth with a weakened pelvic floor or problems relating to the ligaments and muscles' structural integrity, you're going to have a harder time recovering from the trauma of the birth.
What Is the Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor is the network of muscles and ligaments in the pelvic region. This "hammock-shaped" area provides support to the bladder and uterus and the rectum and urethra. The pelvic floor is highly flexible and durable, and it will make it through the delivery to a full recovery in a few months.
However, it's like every other muscle in your body, is you don't stretch and exercise it, it becomes prone to dysfunction. When the stress of birth occurs, people with a week pelvic floor may experience a longer healing time.
The dysfunction in the muscles can cause a drop in the bladder and uterus, causing incontinence symptoms. These symptoms will eventually subside as you return to normal in the weeks after the birth, known as the "postpartum period."
Here's what you can expect as the pelvic floor heals.
- Expect Limited Postpartum Incontinence
As mentioned, the stress on the pelvic floor causes movement in the bladder and uterus. As a result of being out of position, the bladder starts to leak. This situation occurs due to the ligaments and muscles being unable to control the bladder and uterus contraction. It takes time to learn to gain control of the pelvic floor and bladder function.
- You Shouldn't Feel Loose after the Postpartum Period
It's rare for there to be any permanent "looseness" in the vagina after having a child. The stress to the pelvic floor muscles will eventually repair if you receive the right care and complete your physiotherapy routine.
- Perineal Pain is Normal
There are different types of perineal pain women experience postpartum. If you have an epidural to help with the pain, it might take a few hours after the delivery to start noticing any pain.
Doctors will treat you using IV medication for the first 48-hrs after your C-section or natural birth. During this time, perineal pain is normal, and you can soothe the pain by sitting on an icepack. Expect to feel sore and tender for up to a week or longer, especially if the perineal area tears during birth and requires stitching to reconstruct it.
- Kegels are Good for Recovery
Developed by Dr. Arnold Kegel in the 1940s, Kegels are an exercise renowned for rebuilding the structural integrity and health of the muscles and ligaments in the pelvic floor.
To complete a Kegel, you squeeze the muscles in the pelvic floor in the same way you would stop the urine flow. But repeating this movement and holding the top of the squeeze, you can regain the mind-muscle connection between your pelvic floor and your brain.
- Sex Should Never be Painful after Recovery
Your doctor will clear you for sex again anywhere between the six to 10-week mark after childbirth. The recovery rate is different for all women, and some might have to wait longer than others.
If you notice any pain during sex, especially after the 10-week mark, make sure you inform your medical care practitioner immediately. Never continue sex when experiencing pain, stop, and book a consultation with your physician.
- Physical Therapy is Intimate but not Invasive
Retraining your pelvic floor back to health isn't easy. Kegels are useful and practicing them every day will go a long way toward recovering faster. However, there are specialized devices you can add to your therapy to accelerate your progress.
The red light pelvic device from MyElle features an ergonomic design that fits into your vagina like a vibrator. At the head of the device, you'll find three LEDs that produce red light waves in frequencies between 610nm to 700nm.
Red light therapy helps to elevate collagen production and cellular repair in the localized therapy area. The red light LEDs on the MyElleVibe device aim towards the vaginal walls and the cervix. As a result, you get concentrated red light pushing deep into the muscles and ligaments in the pelvic floor. The light helps to promote healing and returning the elasticity of the muscles and ligaments.
- What Is the Best Way to Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The combination of Kegels and red light therapy is the best way to fast-track your recovery from the effects of childbirth.
All you need is 12-minutes with a red light device like the MyElleVibe, every other day. Continue with your Kegel exercises and try and do 2-sets of 12-repetitions twice a day, every day. You should notice your incontinence symptoms stop within 3 to 6-weeks, and the baby blues dissipate faster.
Continue this therapy, and your vagina should be as good as it gets in 90-days. Considering some women take up to 1-year to recover, and a 3-month window would be a welcome relief.