Bladder and bowel problems

Urinary leakage in pregnancy or soon after is common but should never be accepted as 'normal'. There is plenty that can be done to help resolve this embarrassing and uncomfortable problem.

Bowel leakage can also be problematic for some women, especially after delivery. 

Further symptoms that may affect the bladder and bowel during or after pregnancy may include difficulty emptying the bladder or bowel or urgency of the bladder or bowel and all these symptoms need investigations equally.

Why do bladder and bowel problems occur during and after pregnancy?

  • Childbirth weakens and stretches the muscles, connective tissue and nerves in the pelvic floor. Women who have had one pregnancy are nearly 3 times more likely to leak urine than those without.

  • Weight gain in pregnancy (beyond expected limits)

  • Hormonal changes in pregnancy

  • Excessive impact exercise

  • Constipation

  • Repeated heavy lifting and straining

  • Overactive pelvic floor (see our Blog on this condition)

What are the signs and symptoms of bladder and bowel dysfunction?

  • Leakage of urine when you cough, sneeze, lift, laugh or do exercise

  • Inability to control passing wind or stool

  • Feel an urgent need to empty your bladder or bowel

  • Leak bowel motion after you have been to the toilet

You may also experience emptying disorders during which you may experience:

  • Inability to completely empty the bladder

  • Weak stream of urine that stops and starts

  • Urge to pass urine but unable to do so

  • Inability to completely empty the bowel

If you have difficulty with bladder emptying, especially after birth, and feel a strong need to pass urine but cannot empty the bladder - you should seek urgent medical attention to ensure you are not in ‘Urinary retention’.

Will it just get better?

Unfortunately, bladder or bowel leakage and urgency is not likely to go away unless you take steps to strengthen weakened muscles and reduce modifiable risk factors.

Emptying disorders often need support to improve over time.

What can be done to help me?

We know 50% of people are performing their pelvic floor exercises incorrectly, 30% are actually causing further damage.

However, strong evidence shows that with a correct technique, as confirmed by a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist, combined with an individualised pelvic floor training program can significantly reduce incontinence of the bladder or bowel.

We will also provide you with ways to improve general bladder and bowel function, to reduce modifiable risk factors and on how you can safely exercise without further damaging the pelvic floor support structures.