Leaking pee after
having a baby

Let’s yarn about women's business

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The pelvic floor muscles

The pelvic floor muscles help keep the pee tube shut. This stops the pee (urine) leaking from the bladder (pee bag).

These muscles:

  • help to close off the bladder (pee bag), vagina (front/birth passage) and the bowel (back passage)
  • help to hold up the bladder and bowel, and
  • help to hold up the womb (the bag where the baby grows) and keep it in the right place.
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Why you leak pee after having a baby

When the baby grows big and moves down the vagina (front/birth passage), it stretches these muscles and leaves them weak. This stretching means the bladder leaks sometimes.

Leaking will not get better on its own. You need to make your pelvic floor muscles strong again.

Stretched pelvic floor muscles
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If your pelvic floor muscles are weak after having a baby, these things can happen:

  • you can leak pee when you cough, sneeze, lift, laugh or do exercise
  • you might not be able to control farting
  • you might feel a sudden need to pee or poo, or
  • the womb, bladder or bowel might sag down into your vagina (front/birth passage). This sagging is called a prolapse.
Leaking pee
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A prolapse can happen in women:

  • after the change of life, because of body changes
  • who are younger, and have had a big baby with a long labour
  • who have stretched and strained their pelvic floor muscles from lifting heavy things, straining to poo and from coughing a lot
  • who are overweight (their tummy presses down on the muscles), and
  • who have had their womb removed (hysterectomy) because there is less support.
Prolapse
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How to stop these things happening

  • Make your pelvic floor muscles work better. Learn how to exercise them and start doing this when you are pregnant.
  • Don’t push or strain in the toilet when doing poo.
  • Try to keep a healthy weight.
  • Make good choices with food and drinks:
    • eat fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains
    • frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables are good too, and
    • try to drink 6 mugs of water a day.
Eat fruit & vegetables
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  • Look after your pelvic floor muscles. Squeeze up and hold your pelvic floor muscles before you sneeze, cough or lift.
  • Try not to lift anything heavy.
  • A ring (pessary) can be fitted into the vagina (birth/birth passage) to help with prolapse. This stops the sagging by holding up the prolapse.
  • Sit on the toilet the right way.
How to sit on toilet
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How to do your pelvic floor exercises

It’s important that you work the right muscles. If you are not sure about the right muscles, talk to your health worker, nurse, physiotherapist or doctor.

Try to do this exercise:

  • Pull your vagina (front/birth passage) up inside you. Pull up from below, and squeeze and hold. This is like holding in a pee or stopping a pee once it has started.
  • Tighten the ring of muscle around your bowel (back passage) like you are holding in a fart.
  • Try to do both these front and back muscle pull-ups at the same time.
  • Hold the lift for 2 or 3 normal breaths
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  • You should feel:
    • a lifting up from below, and
    • a squeezing and lifting in the muscles around your front and back passages.
  • You should not feel:
    • your bum cheeks squeezing together
    • you are holding your breath, or
    • your belly muscles are moving.

You can do these exercises any time of the day, such as when you are in bed, washing your hands, feeding the baby, in the shower, or when you are sitting and yarning.

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Times to protect your pelvic floor muscles so you don’t stretch them

Some things cause sudden pushing and stretching to your pelvic floor, like when you:

  • cough
  • sneeze
  • laugh
  • lift things
  • hold up baby, or
  • get out of bed.

Do a pelvic floor exercise at the same time you do any of these things. This protects your muscles from stretching.

Pelvic floor muscles
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You will need to work hard at these exercises

It takes time to build your strength.

Get into a habit of doing these exercises all your life.

Your health worker, nurse, physiotherapist or doctor can help you.

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It is important to ask your health worker or nurse for help if you:

  • rush to get to the toilet, to pee or poo
  • have burning or stinging if you pass pee
  • have to push to make the pee start
  • can’t hold in a fart, or
  • have discharge or smell from the front passage.
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Talk to your health worker, nurse, physiotherapist or doctor

Who can help?

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health service
  • Health workers
  • Nurses
  • Physiotherapist
  • Doctors
  • National Continence Helpline Freecall™ 1800 33 00 66
Talk about your problem

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This series of brochures has been developed by the Continence Foundation of Australia and funded under
the Australian Government’s National Continence Management Strategy.

Indigenous artwork created by Georgina Altona and Warwick Keen.
Other illustrations by JAT Illustrational and Fusebox Design.

© 2010