35-year-old Harriette first started experiencing urinary incontinence after the birth of her first child. An intense, 4½ day labour and a forceps delivery of her baby daughter (who came out at 9lbs 8!) wreaked havoc on her pelvic floor, leaving her with ongoing bladder control issues.
When my daughter Persie was born, she weighed 9lb 8oz and I ended up needing an episiotomy with stitches. Within days of giving birth I couldn’t get to the toilet on time, or if I coughed I’d let out a little bit of pee, and I hated it.
Like many of us, the onset of these unexpected incontinence issues had a huge impact on my confidence and ability to simply carry out day to day activities. As a new mum, you’re exhausted as it is, and you become accustomed to getting up regularly during the night for feeds etc. Adding to this, regular trips to the toilet made me feel even more tired and meant I couldn’t fully enjoy the day time with my daughter.
“I was having to do a recce of where the toilets were whenever out and about, and the little ‘me-time’ things I used to enjoy like going out for a run, became increasingly difficult”.
I’d always been fit and healthy and to suddenly not be able to control my bladder was beyond embarrassing. As soon as I left hospital, I saw my GP about it, but all he did was give me a sheet with some exercises on – no support, no advice, no help other than a single piece of paper.
Thankfully, I knew my gym had a physio who specialised in women’s issues, and when Persie was two weeks old I went to see her. Through an internal examination, she identified that my pelvic floor muscles were particularly weak, and while she helped me learn how to do Kegel exercises and it made a difference, I was still leaking every time I sneezed or coughed. Realistically, pelvic floor exercises just goes out the window when you have a busy life, a new born and you just forget to do it.
A couple of weeks later a friend at the gym recommended INNOVO to me, and while I was a bit sceptical and thought it was a bit of a ‘fad’, I figured why not give it a go? I certainly wasn’t spending the time I was supposed to with the pelvic floor exercises.
Once I read the instructions, it was really straight forward. I’d put Downton Abbey on and have half an hour to myself knowing I was doing some exercise internally. By the time Persie was four months old, my pelvic floor was back to how it should be. I was even able to do a 10km run leak-free!
While I realise I’m lucky I remedied my urinary incontinence quickly, I know so many others who are still living with it. When motherhood arrives, you let yourself become the lowest priority. Women also put up with it because of the embarrassment of seeking help.
I came close to just getting on with it rather than coming up with a solution, but no one should have to live with the debilitating limitations of urinary incontinence. There are solutions and cures out there if you persevere with them.