Bladder Control

Accidents Happen

You laugh, cough or sneeze and immediately notice that you have leaked a small amount of urine in the process. Not to worry. Minor bladder control issues are not uncommon during pregnancy.

Stress incontinence—the medical term for this condition—can result when the fetus pushes down and places pressure on your bladder. Stress incontinence can even continue after you give birth, until your weakened pelvic muscles become stronger.

Pads can help

If stress incontinence is a problem for you during your pregnancy or after you deliver, you may consider wearing pads until you regain control of your bladder. Pads can provide that extra measure of protection and peace of mind that you won’t be embarrassed or inconvenienced by bladder control issues.

Pads can come in handy to protect you throughout many of the bodily changes experienced during pregnancy and the childbirth recovery period.

Recovering From a Vaginal Birth

The main event is over, the champagne is gone, the cameras are packed away, and your newly arrived star is the center of the universe. You're exhausted, and surely relieved, but the hard work of becoming un-pregnant is only beginning. Minutes after delivery, your body begins to change, and the adjustments are anything but subtle.

As you will see from this article, increased output of urine and sweat, as well a menstrual-like discharge called lochia, are some of the normal issues women may temporarily face after a vaginal birth. Remember that STAYFREE® can help you through it by giving you versatile options for a variety of protection and freshness needs.

Postpartum watershed

The weight loss alone is breathtaking. Subtracting one 7-to-9pound baby, another pound or two of placenta, and at least a pound of blood and amniotic fluids leaves most women 12 pounds lighter and physically disoriented.

The weight keeps coming off, too. Throughout pregnancy, your body's cells were hard at work retaining water, and now all that extra fluid will start seeping out in the form of sweat and urine. New mothers perspire a lot, and they often produce an astounding three quarts of urine a day twice the usual amount. That full, flooded sensation happens because the bladder, now stretched and flabby like the uterus, is unable to entirely empty itself.

The incredible shrinking uterus

Uterine contractions don't stop after the birth, either, and it's easy to see why. At the time of delivery, the uterus is a 2½-pound melon, 25 times its pre-pregnancy size. Within minutes it begins to shrink, clenching itself like a fist, its crisscrossed fibers tightening in the same way they did to push out the baby and causing the cramps that are known as afterpains. (Afterpains usually grow worse with each successive pregnancy and may require a doctor's prescription for a painkiller).

The uterus does retreat quickly-in one week it's half the size it was at delivery, and by week two it's down to a mere 11 ounces. By week four, it's back to its normal pre-pregnancy weight of 2 ounces. Yet the number of cells in the uterus doesn't decrease; a chemical breakdown of the protein within the cells causes them to collapse to a tenth of their pre-delivery size.

The innermost layer of uterine cells (called the endometrial deciduae) that was stretched during pregnancy, begins to slough off and pass out of your body. Result: a menstrual-like discharge called lochia that lasts for weeks. Bright red at first, it gradually gets lighter in color, fading to white or yellow before it stops.

Internal organs on the move

While your uterus was expanding during pregnancy to accommodate your growing baby, it pushed many of your organs-including your stomach, large and small intestines, bladder, and heart-up and out of the way. Once your baby leaves the neighborhood after delivery, it doesn't take long for your organs to hightail it back to their old haunts. This repositioning can be one cause of bowel and bladder incontinence. Typically, incontinence is short lived, and everything will be back to normal within a few weeks.

Hormones wreaking havoc

The chemical administrators of this overhaul are those master biochemical movers and shakers-the sex hormones. During pregnancy, estrogen allows cells to relax, stretch, and retain water, and its sudden decline after delivery (levels drop by 90 percent in the first three hours) leaves tissues soft and soggy. The hormone progesterone holds uterine muscles in check until it's time to give birth. When progesterone levels decline suddenly after childbirth, certain natural processes that stopped or slowed during pregnancy start up again. The natural shedding of hair, for example: Many women lose handfuls of the stuff around three months after delivery. Pregnancy hormones also transform your breasts, causing the development of a network of ducts, cellular pumps, and milk-producing bulbs. Once estrogen and progesterone levels drop off after delivery, hormones called prolactin and oxytocin-in combination with your baby's suckling-stimulate milk production. If those first breastfeeding sessions cause some abdominal cramping, it's because oxytocin also triggers uterine contractions.

Postpartum hormonal swings affect the central nervous system, too, causing new mothers to go on an emotional ride in that first month or so after delivery. It's normal to feel overwhelmed and weepy during the first couple of weeks-symptoms commonly known as the baby blues. But if feelings of doubt, despair, and malaise don't go away after two weeks, tell your doctor. You could be suffering from the more serious condition, postpartum depression.

If just reading about all this makes you feel like you need a nap, it's no wonder. This dramatic transformation from pregnant woman to new mother is exhausting, but it's also miraculous. In a matter of weeks your amazingly resilient body will reverse physical changes that took nine months to develop. Don't worry, you'll get through it, especially with the help of that most glorious distraction: A living, breathing baby.

At a time in your life when little conveniences can be counted as big blessings, depend on STAYFREE ®. From light protection to extra protection, there's a solution for all of your protection and freshness concerns. The above article was provided courtesy of the BabyCenter, L.L.C., a leading online pregnancy and parenting resource. STAYFREE® products provide excellent added protection for normal vaginal discharges. Check out a STAYFREE® featured product.