How to Prevent Incontinence

Exercising your pelvic floor is essential to prevent or reduce incontinence. One in three women who had a baby becomes incontinent (according to the Australian Department of Health and Ageing).

Initial Pelvic Floor Exercise

Sit with your back supported. Have your feet shoulder-wide apart on the floor.

Basic Exercise

Pull up (lift) your pelvic floor muscles (as though you want to stop the flow of urine). At the same time tighten your lower abdomen. Try to hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 -20 times, working up to holding for 10 seconds.

Initially it will be hard to do these exercises. You might not feel much happening at all. Continue to practice 3-5 times a day and you will soon feel an improvement. You could do it every time you feed your baby.

This exercise is especially important to do in the first 6 months after giving birth. Start as early as possible, ideally on the day after giving birth.

Advanced Exercise

When you have developed a good feeling for the lifts and you are able to easily hold them for 10 seconds then start practicing quick lifts.

Quickly lift the pelvic floor 3 times, repeat 3 times. This is one set. Take a short break (5 seconds), then do two more sets.

Strengthening the stomachContinued Pelvic Floor Maintenance

Every time you lift, sneeze or cough, lift up your pelvic floor muscles. This prevents straining the pelvic floor muscles.

Even when you fall pregnant again, continue with the basic version of the pelvic floor exercise. It helps keeping the pelvic floor muscles stronger and prevents you from leaking water during pregnancy and after giving birth.

How to Avoid Constipation

Pushing during constipation weakens your pelvic floor muscles and can thus lead to incontinence. It is therefore essential to avoid or at least reduce constipation.

Good bladder habits

Avoid going just in case.

Good bowel habits

  • Go everytime you feel the urge
  • Take your time
  • Relax and avoid straining
  • When sitting on the toilet, pull your heals up and rest forward with your elbows on your thighs.

If you are constipated, make sure you

  • Drink plenty of water (at least 2 litres a day)
  • Your diet is high in fibre (e.g. Psyllium husks, breakfast serials low in sugar, wholemeal breads)
  • Eat lots of fruit (soaked prunes on an empty stomach)

Consult your doctor if you cannot get on top of your constipation