Some women’s bodies are forever changed by pregnancy, and not only by stretch marks.
Pregnancy and vaginal delivery are stressful on the body and can cause pelvic-related issues and incontinence, says Dr. Eduardo Martinez, an OB-GYN who specializes in urogynecology at Tidelands Health Women’s Center.
Hormone changes and baby weight pushing on the bladder can cause incontinence during and after pregnancy. Vaginal delivery can stress the pelvic support structure that holds the bladder in place, Dr. Martinez says.
“With vaginal delivery, you see more pelvic floor issues and the weakening of those muscles and ligaments,” he says. “You have three or so kids and weeks or even years after the delivery you can have stress incontinence with activity.”
Symptoms to look for include an increase in urgency or frequency of urination, urinating in spurts or leakage of urine. Some women are embarrassed and avoid seeking help for it, which can interfere with quality of life, Dr. Martinez says. But bladder leaking is very common and there are numerous effective treatments.