36-year-old first time Mum, Leo Fox first experienced stress urinary incontinence after the birth of her baby daughter Aria. “I felt like the baby in an adult nappy!”
I first noticed some mild urinary incontinence symptoms following the birth of my daughter at the start of this year. After what was a smooth pregnancy was a very difficult birth. After three days in labour, I ended up having an emergency forceps delivery, which was quite traumatic. I also developed pre-eclampsia and sepsis which, luckily, were treated quickly. After going through all of that, you hope that your health will improve, and you can get on with your life, and in my case, as a new mum.
"Midwives tell you how important it is to do your pelvic floor exercises (especially after a forceps delivery!) but it isn’t that easy. I would forget to do them, especially with a new born, as your priorities are elsewhere!"
However, shortly after giving birth, my pelvic floor felt quite different which I wasn’t expecting. Midwives tell you how important it is to do your pelvic floor exercises (especially after a forceps delivery!) but it isn’t that easy. I would forget to do them, especially with a new born, as your priorities are elsewhere. Even when I did remember, I wasn’t convinced that I was doing them right as I couldn’t feel my muscles contracting, only my buttocks.
As weeks went by, I found my pelvic floor feeling weaker and weaker. On one occasion, I was walking through the park with my husband and daughter and I suddenly felt a leak. I turned to my husband and said: “I really need to go home” That was the first time I actually had to rush home to change.
Subsequently new situations became more and more tricky and the leaks became increasingly common. Doing light exercise left me feeling damp and I was having to shower a couple of times a day to feel clean.
The combination of being a new mum coupled with worsening symptoms of bladder weakness made me worry constantly, which is really draining especially as you are already exhausted from caring for a new-born. Having your first child, you want to feel like yourself and devote all your energy to your new baby. Instead, I felt deflated and demoralised. I stopped wearing tight clothing, chose to wear baggy sweat pants. I had to start using incontinence pads every day to manage my symptoms – often out of fear that I might have a small leak. However, they’re so uncomfortable and not very inconspicuous to wear so I knew I had to do something about it. I wasn’t prepared to live a life in pads and I was fed up of feeling like a baby in a damp nappy!
A bladder weakness treatment that worked for me
It was my sister who suggested that I try INNOVO - a pair of shorts which have electrical muscle stimulation technology printed inside. As I couldn’t get to grips doing manual pelvic floor contractions, the shorts seemed like a great idea as they do it for you! The first time I put them on they felt a bit strange but also very reassuring as for the first time I could feel my pelvic floor tighten and lift. I wore them for 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week and after 3 weeks I noticed a real improvement. I can only describe it as everything down there just felt tighter, I felt back in control of my own body which was great feeling after having felt very self-conscious and demoralised for so many months.
Since using INNOVO, I’ve been able to start exercising and jump around with my daughter which is great, and I’ve stopped having to wear pads which is really liberating! I have the confidence to know that I can control my bladder, rather than it being in control of me. I’m looking forward to taking Aria on her first holiday abroad and being able to board the plane knowing I don’t need to worry about bladder weakness is a huge weight lifted. We’ll be walking, hiking, swimming – all the things I used to do and love pre-baby!
I feel very fortunate to have found something which has helped me and will continue to use the shorts as a preventative measure. I tell all my NCT friends and family about INNOVO because I strongly believe that there isn’t enough information available to women out there. Bladder weakness is still something which is taboo but actually, when you do speak to friends you soon learn that most women post birth experience bladder weakness to some extent – I have friends in pads who had babies 2-3 years ago. This needs to change.
I’d urge anyone worried about their pelvic floor muscles to find a treatment which works for them. You don’t have to put up with it – it’s common yes but it doesn’t need to be a normal part of life post pregnancy or a price you pay for having a baby.
"Bladder weakness is still something which is taboo but actually when you do speak to friends you soon learn that most women post birth experience bladder weakness to some extent – I have friends in pads who had babies 2-3 years ago. This needs to change."