The questions are endless when you’re an expectant parent. Whether you’re doing the right thing or buying the right products, you might even find that you’re not as prepared as you expected yourself to be, or as you think you should be.
There’s a lot to get your head around regarding everything you need to know about welcoming a newborn. During and after pregnancy, you might need to stroll down the maternity pads aisle or have a look for the best incontinence pads.
It can be a joyful time when you’re pregnant. It’s exciting waiting and planning for a new family member. However, there are certain things that we shouldn’t be scared to touch upon, and that’s incontinence.
Unfortunately, when you’ve got a little bundle of joy rolling around in your tummy, they might sometimes make a jolt and kick for your bladder. This will result in your urge to use the toilet often.
Incontinence is a fairly common problem during pregnancy, but it is hardly spoken of. One of the most common types of incontinence during pregnancy is stress incontinence. It occurs when pressure is placed on the bladder through things such as laughing or coughing.
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How does pregnancy cause incontinence?
There are certain hormones released during pregnancy that can affect the tissue and muscles in the body. This allows the body to expand as the baby grows. It also contributes to the muscles in the pelvic floor becoming softer and smoother to ease childbirth. This can make it difficult for the muscles and ligaments to hold pelvic floor organs in place.
The extra weight that pregnancy offers can put pressure on your pelvic floor muscles, ligaments, and bladder which results in issues such as incontinence. Once you’ve given birth, you might find that the leaks still occur because giving birth will weaken your pelvic floor muscles.
How do maternity pads differ from regular sanitary pads?
You might find that maternity pads work better than ordinary sanitary towels as they are longer, more absorbent, and softer. As your lochia lessens, you might find it easier to switch back to regular pads.
It has also been known to irritate postpartum stitches by using sanitary towels due to the fine mesh. You definitely won’t be very appreciative to get stitches caught in the mesh.
Tampons are not advised as they can increase the infection risk if you use them right after birth.
What to look for when purchasing maternity pads
There are so many maternity pads available, and they come in all shapes, sizes and materials. It can be difficult to know which one is best for you. You might find it better to purchase a selection, in order for your needs to be better suited and for when your flow changes.
Material: Maternity pads are different to regular sanitary pads and they don’t have the plastic coating on the inside layer. This is so irritation is minimised, especially with vaginal stitches. Pads are generally made from a softer material which is kinder to the sensitive parts of your body.
Size: You can find many different sizes available in maternity pads. There are some that are longer than others and some that are thicker, in order to be more absorbent. Thicker pads are suitable for more frequent times of incontinence and also if you have a heavier blood flow.
Comfort: Maternity pads have a cushion-type feel when they are worn. They aren’t designed to be undetectable and sleek. The first priority for maternity pads is comfort.
Style: There are two main styles of maternity pads and that’s wings and no wings. The winged pads have a flap on either side that will fold under and stick to the centre of your knickers. You want to ensure that it feels secure for you and this might also be influenced by the type of knickers that you wear.
Disposal: Most maternity pads are single-use and disposable, but there is a possibility you could buy reusable ones if you feel comfortable doing so. The reusable ones will be made with cotton fabric and are able to be washed several times.
Types of pregnancy incontinence
There are two main types of urinary incontinence in pregnancy. They are stress and urge incontinence (an overactive bladder).
Stress incontinence is very common during pregnancy and it includes involuntary urine leakage, which results from a weakened pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is a system that is filled with muscles, ligaments and tissue that supports your bladder, uterus, and anus.
If your pelvic floor becomes weak, then the bladder will give way when increased pressure or stress is applied to it, which will lead to a sprinkle of urine escaping the bladder.
Urge incontinence is a result of nerve or tissue damage in the bladder which results in sudden, frequent and intense urges to urinate. When you’re pregnant, weight from your uterus can press onto the nerves which lead to your bladder and then causes it to spasm and sends you running to the bathroom.
Frequency of urination in early pregnancy
During the early weeks of your pregnancy, you might feel the urge to wee more frequently due to your growing uterus being situated within the pelvis and competing for space with the bladder. As your uterus rises into the abdomen after the 12th week, you will notice that the urge to urinate is less frequent.
However, during the last weeks of pregnancy, your baby will get into the position, and your baby’s head will be pushing directly onto your bladder, making it harder to hold in urine reliably.
If you’re pregnant and you’re experiencing unexpected urine leaks, it is usually temporary. Your bladder will most likely return to its pre-motherhood condition not long after you’ve given birth. Your pelvic floor muscle will also begin to regain strength.
There are some women who experience urinary incontinence postpartum, although this does usually resolve within a year. If it doesn’t, however, then it’s best to seek some advice from your doctor.
Risk factors for incontinence when pregnant
Even though urinary incontinence is common in pregnancy and most women will experience it at some point, there are a number of risk factors and underlying conditions medically that could make symptoms more frequent or intense, which include:
- Gestational diabetes
- Older maternal age
- Being overweight
- Bladder infections, such as urinary tract infection
- Previous vaginal delivery that weakened the pelvic floor or damaged the nerves around the bladder
- Previous pelvic surgery
How to prevent or treat incontinence during pregnancy
Even though it’s relatively normal for pregnant women to experience incontinence, doesn’t mean that you need to be comfortable with it. Use these management tools and techniques below to minimize the severity of your symptoms and aid in postpartum recovery:
Pelvic floor muscles; These are also referred to as Kegel exercises and they work by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles so they can better hold in urine and prevent bladder leakage during pregnancy.
Stay on schedule: Start by going to the bathroom every two hours whether you need to go to the toilet or not, and then adjust your plan if you feel the need to urinate more frequently. If you maintain an empty bladder, then you can minimize urine leakage throughout the day and ultimately improve the control of your bladder.
Wear protection: Wearing a urinary incontinence liner or pad to protect your underwear and keep you feeling fresh, clean and comfortable is vital.
The Best Incontinence Pads for Women (During and Post Birth)
Because Premium Pads for Women – 4.2/5
You can expect complete absorbency without the bulk with these incontinence pads. They are the most absorbent daytime pas that is ergonomically designed for a woman’s body and offer the ultimate comfort, coverage and discretion.
You will be kept fresh and dry all day thanks to the soft top layer that pulls in liquid instantly, extended side guards to prevent leaks and a gel absorption layer that locks away liquid and odour.
The 12-inch pad fits perfectly into underwear with an adhesive backing that prevents bunching or slipping. It can absorb up to 2 cups of liquid and each pad is wrapped individually for convenience, cleanliness and discretion.
The pads are made with the sustainable programme for the endorsement of forest certification materials, which have been certified to benefit forest repopulation.
Amazon Basics Incontinence – 4.3/5
These pads come in packs of 39 and are long in length and have maximum absorbency. They lock in 20% more wetness than leading bladder control pads The Amazon Basics Moderate Absorbency Pads with Sri-fit technology will help to control the moisture to help your skin stay dry, comfortable and healthy. There is also a dual odor control system that effectively helps to neutralize and stop odors to keep you feeling fresh through the day.
These pads have a cotton-enhanced top sheet which helps to wick away moisture and feels soft against the skin. They are also free from natural rubber latex and FSA eligible.
Poise Incontinence Pads for Women – 4.7/5
The Poise Incontinence Pads are 10x drier than the leading brands and this means they are ideal for incontinence during pregnancy or postpartum. They are specifically designed to absorb leaks featuring leak-block sides. The absorbent bladder control pads lock in the odour with the absorb-loc core which always provides discreet protection as you go about your day.
Always Thin Daily Wrapped Liners – 4.7/5
These smaller pads are great for women who experience slight incontinence during pregnancy and postpartum. The smaller size makes it easy to store in your bag or pocket, discreetly. They offer a breathable odour lock layer which helps keep odours away without perfumes or deodorants. They give you a shower-fresh feeling all day, every day and thankfully, they are individually wrapped so you can take them anywhere.
Rael Organic Cotton Cover Pads – 4.7/5
These pads are 100% certified organic cotton top sheets and made with OCS-certified, Texas cotton grown without the use of toxins, pesticides or synthetic chemicals. They are made from ultra-premium, a pillowy pad which provides ultimate comfort and protection. There is the prevention of overflowing and leaks and they sustain freshness all day to keep you feeling drier for longer.
You can expect maximum airflow as they are made with hypoallergenic, soft and breathable sheets which alleviate unpleasant odours and irritation, all whilst providing the highest levels of period protection. They are safe and suitable for all women, skin types and menstrual conditions.
Attn: Grace Overnight Heavy Incontinence Pads for Women – 4.1/5
If you’re looking for the purest protection for bladder leaks then you’ve come to the right place. Attn is a pad perfect for those that have heavy bladder leaks. They also work great as a postpartum pad. They deliver superior absorbency without harsh chemicals touching your most delicate skin. They are plant-based, breathable and a patented design will keep your dry and fresh as you go about your daily active life.
They are twice as absorbent and longer than the Moderate pads, so they offer more protection in the back. They give a soft and simple design which performs to the highest standards. They are 100% plant-based with top sheets that protect sensitive skin and wick moisture 10X better than organic cotton top sheets. They are free from dyes, chlorine bleach, synthetic fragrances, lotions and latex.
WiseWear Maximum Absorbency Incontinence Pads – 3.2/5
WiseWear incontinence pads are unisex and give you worry-free protection for comfort, leakage, odour control and dryness. They offer maximum leakage protection, super absorbent core, neutralise odour and stay in place. They are extra soft and kind to your skin, chlorine and fragrance-free, silky soft plant base fibres, breathable and skin soft, hypoallergenic fibres, and maximum odour protection.
ZISU Pack of 2 Ultra Soft Underpads – 4.6/5
These underpads are for use in a bed if you’re self-conscious or worried about your incontinence during the night and in your pregnancy or postpartum. They are made from the quilted polyester surface and PU-coated polyester backing which are very soft and eco-friendly. They have an absorbent core which provides maximum protection. They are designed to absorb quickly and lock in moisture. The sheets have an industry-leading 300 wash cycles. They are washer and dryer friendly.
Asenappy 4PCs Cloth Pads – 4.5/5
These reusable incontinence pads effectively prevent leaks, whether you have wide or narrow hips. They have a bamboo charcoal bamboo fibre layer and 2 layers of super absorbent microfibre which ensure high water absorption and skin-friendly properties. The waterproof outer layer is made to prevent leakage and overflow.
The attached waterproof storage bag can help the resumable pads fold according to the schematic diagram. The adjustable snap buttons are easy to open and close, and the sanitary cloth can be fixed on the underwear well, whether it is sleeping, sports, cycling, running etc. These pads are environmentally friendly, especially suitable for people who care about the environment and they don’t produce peculiar smells.
What causes incontinence after pregnancy and childbirth?
If you’re experiencing bladder control problems after you’ve given birth, then it will most likely improve after six months as your body heals properly. Until then, you might feel as if it’s going to be your new reality. Here are some factors that might add to your risk of experiencing bladder leaks after pregnancy:
- Having a C-section
- Having your first baby
- Delivering a large baby
- Experiencing long labour or a difficult vaginal delivery
Signs you might have stress urinary incontinence include urinating when you:
- Signs you might have urge incontinence include:
- Feeling a sudden, strong and frequent urge to urinate
- Urinating more than eight times per day
- Waking up in the middle of the night to urinate two times or more
Incontinence pads can be an effective solution for women who experience bladder control issues during and after pregnancy. While incontinence is a common issue that affects many women during pregnancy and after childbirth, it can be managed with the use of high-quality incontinence pads that are designed specifically for women.
These pads can provide reliable protection against leaks and help women feel more confident and comfortable as they navigate this challenging period in their lives. There are many options to suit whatever you’re most worried about.