Guys: stop reading here. Girls…if I have no followers (or friends for that matter) after this post, I understand. I don’t know what labor and delivery did to my bladder, but it sure did a number on me. There! I said it. If bladder transplants existed, I’d be on the waiting list. Right now I look like this:
but I feel like this:
It’s most likely my own fault; I can’t tell you how many pregnancy-related books and pamphlets I read, and how many of them instructed me to do kegel exercises daily. The idea just seemed…weird. I didn’t even know if I completely understood what they were in the first place. So I took the “happy-go-lucky” road and avoided even thinking about them. And then I gave birth.
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Giving birth was actually a great experience for me, I loved it. The recovery process after birth? No one warned me how awful it is! I’ll excuse you from the details and leave you with just two words: bed pan. I was mortified, embarrassed…and felt I had lost all of my dignity! Unfortunately this continued for a few days: The moment I felt I need to…um..wee? Is that the best word? I’m going with it. Anyway…the moment I needed to “wee” I would act immediately, but it didn’t matter. My bladder had a mind of its own and would just release whenever it darn well pleased. I had to do the unthinkable: I sent my sister to Walmart to buy me some DEPENDS!
I was talking to the wife of an OB who assured me that this is very normal after giving birth, and that if women say it didn’t happen to them that most of them are lying, but I have never heard of anyone having this experience (I wonder why? Maybe it’s a socially unacceptable topic? Leave it to me to bring the subject to the table!)
Continuing my story, I did get better. Well, mostly. The first time I went to an aerobics class and we had to do jumping squats I discovered some new issues, but for the most part I found I could live a normal life with my semi-normal bladder. Then I got pregnant again. Sneezing once is okay, but if I have to sneeze two times in a row…I’m a goner. I’m in my 2nd trimester and I have to “wee” all the time! And the moment I stand I have about a 15 second window to find a restroom. I’m now finding myself a little more open to the word “kegel.” 🙂 So far I have managed not to completely lose it and have the most embarrassing moment of my life, but I’m not sure I can remain so lucky if I don’t make some changes before semester # 3 comes along.
So, if anyone else exists in this world and seems a little disappointed, embarrassed, or infuriated by a “less-than-perfect” bladder, this post is for you! Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to comment and reveal yourself (but if you do I’d love to laugh and cry with you)!
How To Strengthen A Less-Than Perfect Bladder
Okay women, let’s embrace the fact that we really need to be doing our kegels (also known as pelvic floor exercises). I’m sure most of you know how, but if you are unsure, here is the best description I have heard:
It’s like trying to hold a “wee” and a fart at the same time. Only you’re not supposed to tighten your abs or your butt while you’re doing them. Oh yeah, and your supposed to keep breathing (that’s my area of struggle). You can also identify the correct muscles by trying to “stop your stream” in the middle of a pee. If it’s challenging to do this, you really should get serious about the kegels!
How to Do Kegels: Lie on your back and tighten your pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds. Rest and repeat. Try to get up to 10 seconds, and do this 10 times. You should notice a difference in 3-6 months.
If you haven’t had children yet, you aren’t exempt from the exercises! In fact you’d be smart to start now. You should do these multiple times a day, and you don’t have to be laying down to do them! Do them while standing in line at the grocery store, do them while watching T.V., are you doing them while reading this post? 🙂 Don’t worry, no one will know! Wouldn’t that be funny though? If you did know how often women all around you were doing kegel exercises? Haha!
Read more detailed instructions on how to do kegel exercises at this site. And remember this if you ever feel alone: according to the article Weak bladder after birth – why you’re not the only one, light bladder weakness affects one in two women.
And please, if this isn’t something you are plagued with do your best to be understanding on not shun me from society. I would much appreciate that! 🙂
As a quick side note, I read a beautiful blog post about how a woman came to love her stretch marks. She included this quote:
Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the First Quorum of the Seventy and his wife Marie K. Hafen, talked of motherhood and its parallels to the sacrifice made by our Savior. They said:
“Just as a mother’s body may be permanently marked with the signs of pregnancy and childbirth, [the Savior] said, ‘I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands’ (1 Ne. 21:15–16). For both a mother and the Savior, those marks memorialize a wrenching sacrifice–the sacrifice of begetting life–for her, physical birth; for him, spiritual rebirth” (“‘Eve Heard All These Things and Was Glad’: Grace and Learning by Experience,” in Dawn Hall Anderson and Susette Fletcher Green, eds.,Women in the Covenant of Grace: Talks Selected from the 1993 Women’s Conference [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994], p. 29).
So the next time you get upset over your less-than-perfect bladder, remember that it too, is a symbol of your love and sacrifice! 🙂