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Can childbirth cause long-term urinary incontinence?

On Behalf of | Feb 24, 2023 | Birth Injuries

Childbirth is an amazing but frightening experience. The thought of bringing a new child into the world may bring a smile to your face. However, while you may have heard of the pain that comes with labor and delivery, you may be unaware of some maternal injuries like incontinence.

Sometimes after childbirth, new mothers may accidentally pass urine. However, although this side effect of childbirth may improve as the body heals, some mothers may suffer long-term incontinence.

What causes postpartum incontinence?

Giving birth can increase the risk of urinary incontinence. During pregnancy, the extra weight from the expanding uterus may weaken your pelvic floor muscles causing urine to leak involuntarily. In addition, giving birth can damage these same muscles, and the symptoms may persist even after delivery.

Other factors that may cause postpartum incontinence include:

  • Pudendal nerve damage during delivery
  • Use of forceps or a vacuum when delivering your baby
  • Vaginal tears during childbirth
  • Pelvic organ prolapse during delivery

Can the risks of postpartum incontinence be prevented?

Mild incontinence is common during pregnancy, but new mothers sometimes experience long-term urinary incontinence. Fortunately, there are steps that doctors can take to help minimize the risks of incontinence, including:

  • Careful screening and diagnosis of injuries such as vaginal prolapse that may cause long-term incontinence
  • Avoiding overly-long labor since it increases the risks of damaging the mother’s pelvic floor muscles.
  • Monitoring the condition of the pudendal nerve during labor and performing a cesarean delivery if there is any indication of pelvic floor damage.

Treating postpartum incontinence

It’s normal to experience a small amount of urinary incontinence after childbirth. However, if it continues for a few months, you should visit a doctor or a specialist. Depending on the cause and how severe the incontinence is, your doctor may recommend the following:

  • Pelvic floor therapy to strengthen your muscles
  • Surgery to reduce leakage
  • Medication to reduce the urgency of urination
  • Nerve stimulation to repair the damaged nerves

Long-term postpartum incontinence is often caused by injuries during delivery. Unfortunately, sometimes incontinence may arise due to negligence during childbirth. However, if you’re suffering from long-term incontinence due to poor care during delivery, you may be entitled to compensation for damages.