Whether you’re a mother x 1, 2 or 3 (or more) kiddos, you know your days of using the bathroom alone are limited. Either someone is staring at you while you’re doing your business or your littles are banging on the door waiting for you to come out. Many habits change for postpartum moms because you’re moving in so many different directions, day in and day out. So it’s no wonder that it’s common to adopt some unhealthy bladder habits in the postpartum months (in all honesty, these habits usually develop pre-kids…modern day lifestyles doesn’t exactly foster good bladder habits). These unhealthy bladder habits can cause the all-too-familiar symptom of urinary urgency, urinary incontinence, and even sometimes pelvic pain if you’ve struggled with UTIs or other bladder symptoms in the past. SO! Given that this blog is all about empowering YOU do something good for YOU, here are some fun bladder facts + some strategies to consider if your bladder has gone rogue:
- Frequency. The normal number of times to urinate is approximately 5-10 times per day and no more than 1-2 times per night. If you’re toileting more than 10 times per day, you may be training your bladder to hold less urine, causing that familiar “gotta go right now” signal to occur before the bladder is actually full.
- Going ‘just in case’ (JIC’ing). People tend to toilet when they don’t actually have to go, usually to accommodate their busy lifestyle, their kids’ needs, or their dislike for public toilets. However, going ‘just in case’ (or JIC’ing) is how the bladder learns to hold less urine. If it never gets the chance to fill, it won’t be able to hold as much urine, and you’ll find yourself frequenting the toilet too often. That first sensation to urinate is a signal and not a command. Wait for a bit (if you’re able) and allow the bladder fill up a little more. If urgency is a growing concern, then seeing a pelvic health physical therapist is a great idea.
- Refrain from “speed peeing”. This day in age, it’s difficult to relax much less spend precious moments in the restroom. However, when we bear down to pee as quickly as possible, we are causing increased pressure on the pelvic floor muscles (over time, this can cause issues). Sit back. Relax. Breathe. Allow your pelvic floor muscles to release urine as they are able. A healthy urine stream should be consistent, easy to begin, and easy to stop. If you can pee for a comfortable and easy 10-15 seconds(ish), that’s usually an indicator that you’ve allowed the bladder fill enough. I know this can be a struggle with your kid(s) pressuring you, but simply do your best. Give yourself the gift of the 1-3 minutes it takes to peacefully use the restroom. And if your steam is struggling, the pelvic health physio can help you with that too.
- Drink water (neat, straight up, on the rocks…whatever you fancy…but just regular ‘ol water). This seems obvious, but folks who void too much or struggle with urinary incontinence hesitate to stay hydrated during the day. Water can help maintain healthy bladder tissue and bladder habits. Not mention, staying hydrated is so important for the full you! A happy bladder can hold 1.5-2 cups of urine comfortably (*Side note: this is quite a bit of urine! Try filling up a Pyrex measuring cup to see just how much your bladder can expand in order to fill with urine. It’ll surprise you!*).
- Caffeine. No one likes to hear this, but unfortunately, coffee and caffeine can irritate the bladder. If you think your morning cup (or pot) of joe is causing some bladder irritation, don’t feel pressured to cut coffee out completely. Maybe try starting with reducing your intake by just 20% and take note if your bladder responds favorably. Depending on the level of bladder irritability, moderation of bladder irritants is key for regulating bladder signaling (*Side note again: there are many potential irritants, but these four are highly suspect…unfortunately this includes our beloved LaCroix*). Adjust intake of certain foods/bevvies accordingly and give your bladder time to heal if you’re going to cut items out of your diet. Re-introduce slowly and monitor for symptoms. Again, there’s help for this if you get stuck and need guidance. 🙂
If your curiosity is piqued, fill out this bladder diary for three days. It’ll give you important information on your bladder habits and maybe even highlight important trends (for better or worse) that you didn’t otherwise notice. Once you modify your habits, it’s best to wait for 4-6 weeks to see if your modifications are helpful. Healing and seeing trends takes time. If your bladder has gone too rogue and your pelvic floor muscles & bladder need some help syncing back up, you know who to call!