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.

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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 sizes.


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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