A Problem Shared is a Problem Halved: Light Bladder Leakage
If there is one thing that we as women are generally very adept at, it is talking and sharing our experiences with one another. There is something very empowering about being a part of a group of friends whom you can rely on to listen, support and guide you by sharing their experience of similar situations.
Get the right combination of friends together (add a glass of wine or two) and it soon becomes evident that there really are very few topics that are off limits!
After having my first child, and struggling to keep him in a good sleep routine (even at the age of 7 he still wakes at 5.30 am without fail) I soon realised that it was far more exhausting to pretend I was coping well, than to talk openly and candidly with my friends about how challenging I found it.
I soon found that my honestly gave other new mums the opportunity to speak openly with me too, and by the end of the conversation we both felt that our difficulties were in fact very normal, and had often shared information on different strategies to try. By not sugar-coating our experiences we had empowered one another – we’d acknowledged to ourselves and to one another that we don’t have to be perfect to be a good mother.
It was only a few weeks ago when I was witness to a moment like this where women’s honesty with one another had an immense impact on one of the friends in our group.
It was a Friday afternoon, and by some rare alignment of the stars all four of my girlfriends and I managed to arrange a child-free shopping trip.
Finding ourselves in the lingerie section of a department store the usual banter ensued, as we pointed out both the sexy and the revolting underwear on offer, cackling like a coven of witches at our own jokes.
But it wasn’t until one of my girlfriends picked up a pretty large and unflattering pair of undies in earnest that something pretty special happened.
“You’re not buying them are you?” spluttered Catherine clutching a tiny lace pair of briefs in her own hand.
The look on Jackie’s face changed from jovial to embarrassed in a nano-second.
“I, um….I,” Jackie stumbled over her words, her cheeks now scarlet.
“I’m sick of shopping,” I announced trying to change the subject. “Let’s go and have a coffee and a big hunk of Mar Bar cake from that café we passed before.”
Sitting in the café, Jackie was uncharacteristically quiet – and we could all sense the unexplained tension between us.
Leaning across the table to put her hand on Jackie’s shoulder Catherine whispered “I’m sorry if I said something to upset you earlier. I was just joking. You can wear giant Granny undies for all I care.”
Jackie smiled apologetically.
“It’s not that,” she said quietly.
“It’s just…it’s a bit embarrassing really. Since the twins have been born, I’ve had a bit of a problem.” She smiled awkwardly as a salty tear fell from her eye and rolled down her face.
Leanne, who had been sitting next to me across the table from Jackie got up, walked around the table and put her arm around Jackie, who was now in floods of tears.
“I think I know what you are going to say,” she told our friend.
“Is it bladder related?”
Jackie nodded and sobbed on Leanne’s shoulder.
When Jackie regained her composure and we were all seated back at the table the sharing began.
Leanne: This is not something you have to beat yourself up about and feel ashamed about Jack. I had the same issue with bladder leakage after having just one baby – you had two! It is bound to have an effect on your body. But do you know what? It isn’t the end of the world. With some time and good Kegel exercises you’ll be back to how you were, and in the meantime just wear a good panty liner.
Me: OMG! Do you remember how I couldn’t walk past a block of public toilets when I was pregnant without needing to go, even if they were only 30 metres apart? I lived in constant fear of public sneezing!
Jackie: Hahaha! Don’t make me laugh. I might wee.
Catherine: You do know that this is very common don’t you Jack? It’s not like you are the only one who has this condition? I know that I’ve quite literally p***ed myself laughing at least once since the kids were born! And like Leanne said, there are things you can do to recover.
I looked around the table and was almost certain that everyone of us was secretly doing their own Kegel exercises. There is just something about hearing that word that makes you lift and squeeze almost involuntarily, isn’t there?
And Jackie? She later told me how it was such a relief to hear us all talk about our own experiences and to be told that light bladder leakage isn’t something she needs to feel is a shameful secret. Now armed with the right information and a much more positive attitude, she is taking steps to strengthen her pelvic floor.
For more information about light bladder leakage and pelvic floor exercises you can do anywhere visit www.poise.com.au
You can also visit the Poise ‘It Happened to Me’ gallery to see other stories women have shared about their own experience in an effort to empower one another. Don’t be shy to share your own if you have one!