How Can Childbirth Affect A Woman’s Body?

Preparing for childbirth is an exciting, scary, emotional
time. Most women have a birth plan, and a hospital bag packed, but very few are
prepared, or even know about the other changes that can happen. Not many women
think about what could happen to the bladder, or bowel during labour and
delivery. There are a few bladder and bowel problems that are relatively common
during childbirth, but these are often very treatable, and in some cases, can
be avoided entirely, if you follow the right advice. 

baby bump
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Pregnancy and childbirth means
that the shape of your body changes, your weight changes, and your hormones
change. All of this can result in a weakened pelvic floor, or sphincter
muscles. This can lead to stress urinary incontinence. Stress incontinence is
when you experience urine leakage when you laugh, cough, sneeze, exercise, or
lift something.

Stress incontinence due to
pregnancy usually resolves a few weeks after childbirth. There are a few ways
to help manage stress incontinence in the meantime.  


Continence care products, like
incontinence pads, can help many women overcome the lack of confidence that
often accompanies incontinence. When you’re buying continence care products,
size, fit and flow are incredibly important. The size and fit need to be right
to prevent leakage, or chaffing, and skin irritation. You’ll also need to be
sure you use products that are designed for women, as you will need protection
in different areas than a man would. The product also needs to be able to deal
with the amount of leakage you experience. HARTMANN
offer a wide range of continence care products in various flows, and


Pelvic floor exercises can also
help manage stress incontinence. As stress incontinence is usually due to a
weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, it can be a critical step in resolving
the problem. Pelvic floor exercises are when you contract the muscles of your
pelvic floor, similar to what you would do to stop urinating in mid flow, and
keep the muscles contracted for a period of time. You can start by holding the
muscles for three seconds, and build up until you can hold for ten seconds. You
should perform sets of pelvic floor exercises at regular intervals throughout
the day.  


Third degree tears, and fourth
degree tears involve the sphincter muscles that control the anus. These tears
can also be referred to anal sphincter tears. A third degree tear can affect
one or both of the circular muscles of the anus. A fourth degree tear also
affects the lining of the anus. A fourth degree tear will need to be surgically
repaired, and will require either an epidural or anaesthetic. Both of these tears
can result in fecalincontinence.

When being discharged from
hospital, the doctor, or nurse, will give advice to patients who have
experienced third degree tears, or fourth degree tears.


You would be advised to shower,
or bath once a day to keep the area clean. Make sure that you dry thoroughly
afterwards. You may also be advised to clean the area with water after each
bathroom visit.  


You would be advised to drink
6-8 glasses of water per day. You would also be advised to make sure that you
eat regularly, and ensure that you eat a varied, balanced diet. Your diet can
affect your stool consistency, so you should make sure you eat foods that will
help give a normal stool consistency.  


You may be advised to allow for
a few days of healing before trying pelvic floor exercises, but you should try
to get into a routine of doing them as soon as possible. As well as
strengthening the pelvic floor, these exercises can increase the circulation to
the area, which can reduce any swelling, help to ease discomfort, and promote


Bowel training can help to
lengthen the time you need between trips to the bathroom. Before you begin
bowel training, you will need to discuss it with your doctor, or healthcare
professional. You should also make sure that you keep a diary, and include your
diet, as well as your bathroom breaks.  


Many women experience urinary
retention in the first day’s after childbirth. It usually resolves with
management, but in rare cases, can last for a prolonged period of time. For
most women, it involves an inability to urinate, and a feeling of discomfort
due to a very full bladder. Sometimes it can be treated through selfcatheterisation, or using a
temporary catheter.


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