Post-Pregnancy Body Changes

Bladder Dysfunction and Incontinence

When: From delivery to eight weeks

Why: A few days after delivery, you may let out a sneeze or a cough...and, yep, a trickle of pee. Slight incontinence is a very common side effect of giving birth, says Roger W. Harms, MD, editor-in-chief of the Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy (Collins). Before you got pregnant, your pelvic muscles and ligaments worked together to prevent urinary leakage; now they've softened and stretched, so they lack their previous strength. Additionally, your bladder has shifted position, sinking close to the space where the baby came out. All of which means that with each "achoo," you're involuntarily peeing. "Kegel exercises, in which you tense and release your vaginal muscles, can strengthen those internal muscles and push the bladder back up," Dr. Harms says. "In nearly all cases, this resolves itself within six to eight weeks."

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