Why yes, I think I did.
There. I said it. It’s embarrassing. But yes, I admit it. I totally did it. More than once in those first few weeks after I gave birth. It’s embarrassing to say it. Equally embarrassing when it happens. The loss of bladder control post-childbirth. Oh. Em. Gee. This is one thing I was hoping didn’t rear its ugly head, but it did. It came. It stayed a while. It still shows up on occasion. Far too often, as far as I’m concerned. If I never saw it again (the loss of bladder control, that is), I would never long for its return.
Yes, I did Kegels throughout pregnancy. I guess when you have a head sitting on your bladder 24/7 throughout the end of your pregnancy, that doesn’t always help. I guess when you have an 8.5 lb noggin making its way through the birth canal, that doesn’t always help. I guess when you are delivering naturally and pushing for some time, that doesn’t always help. Just saying.
To make things weirder (for me), after a couple of weeks postpartum, when I finally got the courage to check things out “down there,” I noticed a new friend. I believe my exact words to my doctor were, “Where did my vaginal opening go and what is that?” Oh, that thing. It’s your bladder pushing through your vaginal wall. Wait, WHAT? One of the things I didn’t spend excessive time pondering when I was pregnant was a poking bladder. (My poking bladder = bladder prolapse.) Until it happened. And, yep, it did happen.
Fortunately, mine is not as bad as some. So I hear. I empathize. I sympathize. In the scheme of things, there are far worse things I could be dealing with. It’s not the end of the world. Look at the awesomeness that comes from this miracle of childbirth, right? But, it is still a lingering issue for me, even 21 months postpartum. Running doesn’t help matters, as one might imagine. I like to run. I want to run. I NEED to run. I HAVE to run. So I run. I just don’t down 32 ounces of water before I head out unless I have a solid hour-long window before I head out. Plenty of time to empty this puppy. And by this puppy, I mean bladder.
I do have to say, in hindsight, that I think I may have had a bladder issue even before childbirth and pregnancy. I’m pretty sure it was only exacerbated by the experience. As my awesome husband pointed out, “You were always a tea bag!” He’s right. If we took a road trip, I had to stop every couple of hours for some bladder relief, while he could manage to make it four hours or more.
It had me pretty down, this newly heightened bladder issue of mine. I was hormonal and feeling inadequate as it was. So I did quite a bit of research. Here’s a quick rundown of some things I have tried:
- your run-of-the-mill Kegel exercise
- a Kegel weight
- YouTube videos for pelvic floor strengthening (some did help)
- the Apex device (Google it)
- Pelvic floor therapy (done in a medical office)
- Hab It pelvic floor DVD
The Kegel, alone, did little for me. I invested in a Kegel weight and that was an experience, let me tell you. I’ll spare the TMI. Let’s just leave it as an odd experience and one that didn’t work for me.
The Apex device was a bit of a step up and was prescribed to me by my OBGYN about six months postpartum. It essentially does the work for you in roughly 15-20 minutes time, recommended at six days per week to see the maximum benefit. After your 15-20 minutes, you follow up with some independent Kegels. It’s one of the least convenient options for a mom with a newborn, in my opinion. But an option, nonetheless. It did help some, but you really have to keep up with it and continue to do it to maintain results, just like any other exercise.
Some of the YouTube videos I found for pelvic floor exercises were pretty great, and there are plenty out there. The issue is really making sure you understand what you are doing and how to properly execute the exercise. Not always easy to do watching a YouTube video.
The in-office pelvic floor therapy was a joke for me. Laughable. I think because the person that I worked with was a sales person (yikes!) and not really properly certified or educated on the pelvic floor, believe it or not. I had one visit and never went back. She basically inserted a device similar in nature to the Apex, which did the Kegels for me for a set amount of minutes. Then she sent me away with “homework” Kegel exercises, which were the standard Kegel squeeze. I think the whole experience with this seemingly unqualified person, who knew less than I did about the pelvic floor (which was obvious when I would ask questions), is really what put me off and weirded me out. Not for me.
The best thing I have discovered so far is the Hab It pelvic floor DVD. Google it. That’s how I found it doing my research when I still wasn’t getting the results I wanted. In the beginning, you really have to set aside time (20 mins or so) a few times a week to do the DVD and really understand the exercises you are doing. You are walked through each exercise in great detail. What I really love about this is that you are training to work your entire pelvic basket. This is something that wasn’t even mentioned in any of the other methods I had tried. The physical therapist on the DVD tells you how to properly do each exercise and almost insists you not move on to the next module until you master the existing one. Once you really get the hang of the exercises, you can move on and then even do them without the DVD once you get the routine down. On average, it takes 15-20 minutes until you have mastered the regimen, then it takes far less time. I think my only frustration going in is the time spent ensuring you understand the move and really getting it right. She does mention the frustration, which is oddly reassuring. Form is key, as with any other form of exercise. But I really like that she takes it beyond a simple Kegel and is focused on the pelvic basket. That makes more sense to me.
I’ve been more slack than I’d like to admit in doing it lately, and I can tell. No, I’m not peeing myself, but I definitely visit the loo more since I have been slacking off. The awesome thing is, I know there is hope for improvement. I saw the most marked improvements when I was consistently doing these exercises using this program. I even noticed my new “friend” (a.k.a., “poking bladder”) starting to make its way back up to its rightful home (or at least not taking occupancy where it didn’t pay rent). Woo woo! I should also mention that I have no affiliation with the Hab It people. I just feel like it’s a solid option that has made a difference for this mama. Why hog up this goodie for myself?! I empathize. I sympathize.