Do You Pee When You Cough?

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pee when you cough

This is a conversation that I had recently on a playground with another mom. “Do you pee when you cough?” She was asking this question with a look of embarrassment on her face because she was honestly afraid that she was somehow broken after having a baby. She reported that she will pee a little bit after a heavy cough or a deep belly laugh, and that this made her wary about the upcoming cold and flu season.

I smiled and responded how any normal person would.

Of course I do! My children absolutely wrecked my vagina and now I avoid trampolines.

 

She smiled with relief because she realized that this was actually a really common side effect of birthing a human being.

Sometimes your internal parts get confused and…wander.

If you are new to the mommy game or you have yet to experience this fun side effect of uncontrollably going pee when you cough, let me introduce you to the world of “pelvic floor issues.”

As you can imagine, your stretchy vagina gets worked to the max when an 8-pound human passes through its walls. Most new moms will experience a delay in their vagina’s ability to bounce back, but up to a third of moms can have what is called pelvic organ prolapse. You are more likely to have this problem if several babies passed through your birth canal.

So moms who want a few kids, pay attention.

Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when your bladder, rectum, and uterus slip out of place and into your pelvic cavity, and this increased pressure pushes up against the walls of your vagina causing them to bulge. This can, in turn, create a lowered pelvic floor which increases the chances that you could have stress incontinence (e.g. unwanted peeing). You may also feel a bulging feeling in your vagina (and you might even be able to see it if you look) depending on the severity of the prolapse.

Essentially, if there is increased pressure happening in your nether regions, it is harder to hold in pee when you are engaging in activities that also involve pelvic pressure. Therefore, for many new moms, they may have mild incontinence under stress (laughing, coughing, any kind of trampoline activity), and this could become semi-permanent.

Now, fear not.

There are some things that new moms can do to minimize any pelvic prolapse that might occur.

Step one is to take it easy after birth. Sometimes excessive exercise can actually exacerbate pelvic floor issues because it causes organs to redistribute in ways that can enhance the pelvic dropping that can occur. Also, it is a good idea to avoid constipation after birth because the strain from trying to go to the bathroom can also add stress to the pelvic floor.

And if you are one of the lucky moms who develops a prolapse, you will find kegel exercises to be your best friend.

Kegel exercises involve relaxing and tensing the muscles used to hold in your pee. You want to practice these in a seated or lying down position for at least a dozen reps a few times a day to really have a lasting effect on your pelvic muscles. And it can definitely work as most women see a solid effect after only a few weeks. But if they don’t, there are pelvic physical therapists and even possibly surgeries that can help make permanent changes.

The important thing to realize is that your pelvic concerns are shared by many of your fellow sisters, so don’t despair!

There is help out there, and you don’t need to be embarrassed. But until things go back to normal, I recommend that you go to a trampoline park wearing dark pants.