Tips to reduce incontinence after having a baby

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Incontinence is amazingly common - especially if you've had a baby - yet most of us don't talk about it.

Although an astonishing number of women accidentally wet themselves every day by laughing, sneezing, coughing and jumping, we tend to think it's just something we have to put up with.

Until recently there were really only two invasive options for urinary incontinence - surgery or injected fillers - but now there is a non-invasive, painless, FotonaSmooth laser treatment which one of Singapore's leading urologists, Prof Peter Lim Huat Chye, Senior Consultant Urologist at Gleneagles Hospital, says will revolutionise the treatment of urinary leaks in Singapore.

However, if you don't want to see a doctor yet (even though we highly recommend it!), here are some simple solutions that do not involve drugs or surgery:

1. Kegel Exercises

Kegels refer to pelvic floor exercises to strengthen pelvic muscles. They basically involve flexing the same muscles you use to stop the urinary flow and is very useful for the early stages of incontinence and also to maintain pelvic floor tone over time.

2. Lose Weight

Excess belly fat puts pressure on the bladder and the pelvic muscles so shedding a few pounds if you are overweight can help restore your bladder control. Maintain your weight can also help reduce the severity of your urinary incontinence.

3. Bladder Training

Our mums always used to tell us not to hang on or to 'go and have a wee just in case', but this gets your bladder to develop bad habits. And contrary to what we were always told, "hanging on"; when our bladder is getting full is actually the best way of getting it to work properly again.

4. Vitamin D & Magnesium

According to a study published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, vitamin D doesn't just protect bones. Higher levels of vitamin D are also linked to a lower risk of pelvic floor disorders, including urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Magnesium may also ease incontinence worries!

5. Quit Smoking

A small study conducted at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki in Greece suggests that heavy smokers are more likely to be incontinent than nonsmokers because nicotine can actually irritate the bladder. It also causes coughing, which is a risk factor in developing stress-related urinary incontinence.

6. Acupuncture

If you have incontinence, you might consider acupuncture. This ancient traditional practice can re-route energy imbalances that cause urinary leaks, as incontinence not stems from the bladder and kidneys but from other parts of the body such as the lungs and heart.

How acupuncture can help you lose weight, calm migraines and more

  • Use this ancient TCM practice to restore your body's energy balance and resolve chronic problems from muscle sprains to sex issues.
  • Breaking down fat cells is easy with acupuncture.
  • There are 12 Meridien points in the body that hold the key to unlocking our natural fat-burning ability.
  • These points include the ear, which suppresses hunger, and the area in between the second and middle toe, which purifies the stomach and improves digestion, and the abdomen area where most fat accumulates.
  • Most people who seek help for arthritis pain just want pain relief, but acupuncture can be used to reduce the inflammation associated with inflamed joints and stimulate the body to heal and become normal.
  • Some people with rheumatoid arthritis have reported that after one year of treatment, they can now move their hands as they never could before.
  • Acupuncture is a useful tool in treating this very common medical complaint.
  • Alongside herbs like goji berry and green tea leaf, acupuncture will help to restore the body's qi, or energy balance, and makes the body readier to fight against headaches and migraines.
  • Using herbs as well as acupuncture can heal minor aches and sprains that you can get from doing repetitive work like mopping and sitting down at a desk a lot.
  • The most often used herbs to treat arthritis include Bambusa root and eucalyptus oil.
  • TCM believes that the day a person dies, he or she should be as healthy and in the same physical condition as they were 20 years earlier. But as we become older, our organs wear out or shut down.
  • Herbal medicine and acupuncture for sexual dysfunction help to improve circulation to these organs and improves the cardiovascular system, which are both important to boost the enjoyment of sex.
  • To treat PMT, TCM practitioners will look at the individual symptoms of each woman and discuss a treatment that usually involves herbal preparations, acupuncture, an exercise regime and following a healthy diet.
  • The most often used herbs to alleviate the symptoms of PMT include Dong Quai and He-Shou-Wu.
  • Western medicine attempts to lower blood pressure by suppressing it but in TCM, the condition is linked to improper functioning of the kidneys.
  • Acupuncture gets to the root of the problem by treating the 10 Meridien points related to blockages in the kidney and liver to relieve the condition.
  • To regulate the function of the organs and meridians, stimulate the flow of Qi via acupuncture, acupoint massage and moxibustion.

7. Hypnotherapy

According to some research, hypnotherapy may help patients feel more in control of the body - in this case the bladder and muscle contractions - by putting the patient in a state of deep relaxation and heightened concentration.

8. Reduce Caffeine Intake

Caffeine is known to excite the brain, and since the control of the bladder is in the frontal lobe of our brains, this heightened level of excitement may effect on the bladder as well. It's best to avoid or restrict your coffee consumption completely if you have incontinence.

Warning signs that you're addicted to caffeine

  • Caffeine works as a stimulant which means it gives us some form of pleasure every time we consume it.
  • If you find yourself acting moody and grumpy before you have your daily cup of joe, it probably means that you're relying on it just to feel happy.
  • Here comes the ultimate withdrawal symptom: pounding headaches.
  • What caffeine also does is that it constricts our blood vessels, restricting the blood flow which also means it is a great headache reliever.
  • If your body is used to a constant and heavy amount of caffeine, you could possibly suffer a headache just by skipping a cup of coffee.
  • In these cases, don't go cold turkey immediately but start by reducing the amount and frequency so that your body can get used to the change.
  • In other words, you find it difficult to function without the adrenaline that caffeine provides us every time we consume it.
  • But then again, our minds were never created or wired to rely on caffeine just so that we can get on with our lives.
  • So the next time you're set on the idea that you can't work without caffeine, it is probably time to reconsider the limitations of your own body.
  • As the same goes for anything else, our bodies can find a way to put up a tolerance to the things we consume.
  • As for caffeine, a cup of coffee might not keep you awake for as long as when you first started drinking coffee, so you need more of it to keep on going.
  • Before you think about that next refill, do know that it is only a matter of time that your body would be immune to caffeine again. In any case, it is a vicious cycle.

9. Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water and other fluids is crucial in managing incontinence. If you don't stay hydrated, you may end up constipated, which can irritate the bladder and cause incontinence.

10. Geisha Balls (Ben Wa)

Sex toys known as Ben Wa or geisha balls, which were originally designed centuries ago to improve sexual sensation, can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. This is because the muscles you use to keep the weighted balls in place in the vagina are the same muscles you are working in pelvic floor exercises.

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