woman standing in front of mirror

By Associate Professor TAN Thiam Chye Head & Senior Consultant, Dr Janice TUNG Associate Consultant, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, KK Women's and Children's Hospital

The purpose of the bladder is to store and pass urine at the appropriate time and place. However, after childbirth, this function may not work as expected for some women. Here are the most common urinary problems you might be facing and how you can deal with them:

1. Urinary Frequency and Urgency

urinary frequency and urgency

This refers to the need to pass urine more than seven times a day or more frequent than once every two hours.

What do I do? First things first, pay a visit to your family doctor. After asking about your medical history and urinary habits, the doctor may perform a few tests, such as collecting a urine sample. Depending on the cause of your condition, the doctor may start you on medication or refer you to a specialist for further investigation.

2. Urinary Incontinence

urinary incontinence

This refers to an involuntary loss of urine, which may be triggered by coughing, sneezing or lifting heavy objects.

What do I do? Most women experience some mild urinary incontinence after delivery which should resolve after a few weeks. Seek help from your doctor if you continue to have persistent symptoms after that. Performing regular pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy and after delivery should improve the situation for mild cases. For more serious cases, a surgical correction may be needed.

3. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

urinary tract infection

This refers to the presence of bacteria in the urine, which may exist in the bladder or in the kidneys. Mild cases may cause frequent and urgent trips to the toilet, as well as some pain when you urinate. Severe cases may cause back pain and high fever.

What do I do? Mild cases may subside if you drink more fluids (more than two litres a day) to flush out the bacteria. Serious cases, on the other hand, may require oral antibiotics from the doctor.

Related: Urinary Tract Infection

4. Uterovaginal Prolapse (UVP)

kidney infection

This refers to the protrusion of the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and rectum) into or out of the vagina. This may be caused by vaginal delivery, heavy lifting, pregnancy or chronic constipation.

What do I do? Surgery is presently the treatment of choice. However, prevention is always better than cure! To reduce the chances of UVP, perform pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy and after delivery, avoid carrying heavy objects more than 5kg, treat chronic constipation and maintain a healthy body weight.

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Sources:

The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth 2008, World Scientific

Healthy Start for your Pregnancy 2012, Health Promotion Board Singapore