36-year-old first time Mum, Leo Fox first experienced stress urinary incontinence after the birth of her baby daughter Aria. “I felt like the baby in an adult nappy!”
I first noticed some mild urinary incontinence symptoms following the birth of my daughter at the start of this year. After what was a smooth pregnancy was a very difficult birth. After three days in labour, I ended up having an emergency forceps delivery, which was quite traumatic. I also developed pre-eclampsia and sepsis which, luckily, were treated quickly. After going through all of that, you hope that your health will improve, and you can get on with your life, and in my case, as a new mum.
"Midwives tell you how important it is to do your pelvic floor exercises (especially after a forceps delivery!) but it isn’t that easy. I would forget to do them, especially with a new born, as your priorities are elsewhere!"
However, shortly after giving birth, my pelvic floor felt quite different which I wasn’t expecting. Midwives tell you how important it is to do your pelvic floor exercises (especially after a forceps delivery!) but it isn’t that easy. I would forget to do them, especially with a new born, as your priorities are elsewhere. Even when I did remember, I wasn’t convinced that I was doing them right as I couldn’t feel my muscles contracting, only my buttocks.
As weeks went by, I found my pelvic floor feeling weaker and weaker. On one occasion, I was walking through the park with my husband and daughter and I suddenly felt a leak. I turned to my husband and said: “I really need to go home” That was the first time I actually had to rush home to change.
Subsequently new situations became more and more tricky and the leaks became increasingly common. Doing light exercise left me feeling damp and I was having to shower a couple of times a day to feel clean.
The combination of being a new mum coupled with worsening symptoms of bladder weakness made me worry constantly, which is really draining especially as you are already exhausted from caring for a new-born. Having your first child, you want to feel like yourself and devote all your energy to your new baby. Instead, I felt deflated and demoralised. I stopped wearing tight clothing, chose to wear baggy sweat pants. I had to start using incontinence pads every day to manage my symptoms – often out of fear that I might have a small leak. However, they’re so uncomfortable and not very inconspicuous to wear so I knew I had to do something about it. I wasn’t prepared to live a life in pads and I was fed up of feeling like a baby in a damp nappy!