…Til it’s not.
“I laughed so hard I peed my pants!”
This phrase has a catchphrase because peeing your pants is extremely common. There are drugstore aisles dedicated entirely to female pee pads. I often leave my cards there because the sad truth is that many moms don’t know there are solutions other than just wear a pad. I’ve seen moms who showered multiple times per day or just brought a change of clothes with them in their baby’s diaper bag. If that’s your jam, cool. But if you’re tired of packing extra or spending an exorbitant amount of money on pads and feeling like your body is someone else’s, it’s time for a change. We want you to feel like the confident, beautiful powerful self you truly are and feel at home in your body.
Peeing your pants (incontinence) happens for a variety of reasons. Often, when this happens during or after pregnancy, it’s because the outer abdominal muscles (the rectus abdominis or six pack muscle) and the obliques overpower the deeper core muscles, the transverse abdominis and pelvic floor. Those deeper muscles often get weaker because of
Poor training strategies
Have you ever been told to pull your belly button toward your spine in a workout class? this is bad advice given by well meaning exercise and health professionals. In most people this cue activates the rectus abdominis and doesn’t allow the pelvic floor or transverse abdominis to work well. If you do this over and over again when you run, jump, and lift, it puts excessive pressure on the pelvic floor and can make you pee your pants.
Changes that happen during pregnancy
As baby grows, it puts increased pressure on your pelvic floor. If the rectus abdominis and obliques continue to overpower the pelvic floor, you may start to pee your pants with more things like sneezing or coughing.
Changes that happen during labor
When you give birth vaginally, your pelvic floor stretches 300x its length. This is absolutely incredible but this quick change and then the necessary duties of a new mom can put more pressure on the pelvic floor and cause incontinence. And if you tear, or push for a long time, or need assist from instruments to deliver baby, this adds more trauma and change to the pelvic floor that can put you at risk. Often, when these things happen the pelvic floor isn’t as reactive as it was previously and the pelvic floor cannot keep up with pressure changes like jumping, sneezing, or laughing.
When you give birth by c-section, the abdominals undergo trauma, which changes the way the brain and body function. Typically, we see abdominal muscles that are even more overactive because the brain is trying to “protect” the area and increases muscle activity to do so. This has a similar effect as the poor training strategies problem.
If you want to stop peeing your pants OR you want to prevent it from happening, we’ve got you. Here are our top 3 strategies to start implementing now whether you are thinking of having a baby, pregnant, or postpartum:
Let your belly go
- When you’re working out, and you think to “activate your abs” or someone tells you to pull your belly button toward your spine, just don’t. You can smile and nod and instead, think, “big belly, soft belly” before you start the movement and during the movement. Our abs and pelvic floor work best when they start relaxed and then are able to tighten during the movement. And then trust that your pelvic floor and abs will work as they should. If you feel downward pressure or start peeing, stop what you’re doing and try a modified version of the exercise. That’s your indication that the exercise is too much for your core and you need to go to pelvic floor physical therapy.
Focus on your breathing
- Especially if you’re pregnant, breathing properly is crucial. It helps to relax the diaphragm, abs, and pelvic floor so they can work properly and respond the changes in pressure. If you’re peeing your pants or want to prevent it, you need to start with your breathing not just kegels.
- Learn to breathe properly to set your pelvic floor up for success:
- Start with the rib and belly movement: Lie on your back with your head and shoulders propped up. Place one hand just beneath your breasts, at the bottom of your chest bone and your other hand on your belly. When you breathe in, you should feel the hand on your chest bone rise first and then the hand on your belly. When you exhale, your belly hand should move first and then your chest bone hand. Then, make sure your mid back near your bra line is moving into the floor when you inhale. If it’s not, try propping your legs up with knees and hips bent on a couch or chair.
- Add the movement of the pelvic floor:
- When your diaphragm is working properly, your pelvic floor should move in rhythm with your diaphragm. When you inhale, your pelvic floor should relax, lowering down toward your toes like an elevator and when you exhale it should rise. Check into your pelvic floor (picture the space between the two bones you sit on and your pubic bone and tailbone) and see if it’s moving as you inhale and exhale well. If it’s not, make sure your ribs and belly are moving well as above!
- If it’s still not moving well, our blog post Must Do's While Pregnant has more tips on how to connect to your pelvic floor and get it working properly. And if it’s still not happening, that’s your cue that you need to do pelvic floor physical therapy.
Pick exercises that are right for you
We find that more often than not, moms are doing exercises that are WAY too much for their bodies. Like, they certainly have the capability of doing a plank or a burpee or sprinting, but their bodies are compensating with their rectus abdominis and obliques rather than using their pelvic floor and transverse abdominis (which will help keep them dry!) If you want to know if an exercise is right for you, give it the Resilient Motherhood Method test:
Can you breathe while doing the exercise? If no, it’s not right for you. Try modifying or finding another exercise
Can you feel your pelvic floor working? Tune into your pelvic floor the next time you do a crunch or a jumping jack. Can you feel it tighten when you curl up into the sit up or land from the jumping jack? If no, your pelvic floor is probably not supporting you and you need to find another exercise or modify.
If you’re not feeling it, you probably don’t have good awareness and control of your transverse abdominis and pelvic floor and pelvic floor physical therapy is your secret sauce.
If you want to laugh about peeing your pants, I’m all for that coping mechanism initially. Laughter is some of the best medicine. But, if you don’t want to be laughing and peeing your pants until you’re old and gray, your best first step is trying some of the techniques above. And if your bladder is still giving you trouble, pelvic floor physical therapy is the BEST thing you can do for your bladder health. If you’re ready to put yourself and your bladder health first, book a free consult with us so we can help you ditch pads and do whatever freakin’ exercise you want to do AND stay dry.