Incontinence After Childbirth: How Long Does It Last?

Dec 01, 2023
Incontinence After Childbirth: How Long Does It Last?
The postpartum period brings a whole set of challenges, including urinary incontinence. Read on to learn more about this side effect of delivery and when you can look forward to it resolving.

As many as 4 in every 10 women experience some form of urinary incontinence following childbirth. Incontinence describes the involuntary leakage of urine that can range from minor dribbles to complete loss of bladder control. Some women also experience fecal incontinence, the involuntary loss of fecal matter.

Regardless of your degree of incontinence, it can be inconvenient and embarrassing. While incontinence is a pretty normal side effect of childbirth, it’s one you hope to get over quickly. 

Here at Women’s Care of Beverly Hills in South Bay, Redondo Beach, and Beverly Hills, California, our expert OB/GYN team wants you to be assured that most forms of incontinence usually resolve in a few weeks or a few months. Here’s what you should know.

About incontinence after childbirth

Urinary incontinence after childbirth usually shows up as stress incontinence, where activities such as coughing, sneezing, or laughing lead to unintended urine leakage. Stress incontinence occurs because these activities put extra pressure on the bladder sphincter that controls urine flow. Pressure leads to leakage. 

Some women do experience urge incontinence, characterized by a sudden, intense need to urinate. Hormones, genetics, smoking, and bladder muscle strength are all factors that contribute to the development of urge incontinence.

Fecal incontinence is when you have trouble controlling gas or bowel movements after vaginal delivery. About 5% to 25% of women have this type of incontinence after a vaginal delivery. 

Factors that affect the length of incontinence

Although incontinence is relatively normal following childbirth, recovery can vary depending on several factors, including:

Delivery method

The method of delivery can influence the duration of postpartum incontinence. Vaginal deliveries tend to place more stress on the pelvic floor muscles, potentially prolonging the recovery period compared to Cesarean deliveries. Women who have a natural, vaginal delivery are 50% more likely to develop incontinence compared to women who deliver via Cesarean section. 

Pelvic floor muscle health

The health of your pelvic floor muscles plays an important role in postpartum incontinence. Women who engage in targeted pelvic floor exercises during and after pregnancy may experience quicker recovery compared to those who do not.

Number of pregnancies

The number of pregnancies a woman has experienced impacts the severity and duration of incontinence. Each subsequent pregnancy may contribute to more notable and longer-lasting incontinence. 

Resolving incontinence

Every woman’s body responds differently to the physical stress of childbirth. You may experience a relatively quick resolution of incontinence symptoms or you may find it takes a little time. 

We here at Women’s Care of Beverly Hills help you develop good pelvic floor health. Our specialists teach you how to engage in pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels, during and after pregnancy so your urinary incontinence can resolve more quickly. 

We also assess the severity of your incontinence and provide other interventions if necessary. Ultimately, postpartum recovery is a gradual process, so you try to be patient with yourself. Maintain a healthy lifestyle and prioritize your mental well-being to help yourself during your recovery. 

If you’re struggling with postpartum incontinence and want to schedule an evaluation at Women’s Care of Beverly Hills, contact us today. We can help support you during your recovery and restoration of pelvic health following childbirth. 

Call or use the online tool to book an appointment.