17 answers

Loss of Bladder Control After Childbirth

Ladies, please help. I gave birth to a beautiful baby last Friday morning. After about 9 hours of strong contractions he practically came out with one push in the end. I did have an epidural an hour before the birth and I was catheterized (spelling?) when I got the epidural. It's now 5 days later and I still have zero bladder control. I am doing kegals as often as I can but they seem to be having no effect whatsoever. This is not a 'leaking' issue. When I stand up, my bladder opens up and it pours out :(
Has anyone else gone through this. Is there something I could be doing right now to strengthen whatever I have to strengthen?
Please help.

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I gave birth 3 months ago and I had the same problem. It went away after maybe 3 weeks. After that I felt like it happened very little, the it went away without me noticing. You MUST continue to wear the thick pads like they give at the hospital.

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You've received some great responses. I wanted to respond, though, to share my experience about "stress incontinence" since some people may be suffering from the same thing. My stress incontinence turned out to be symptoms of a bladder infection -- and I waited six months to tell my doctor since I thought a little leaking was normal ... Could've been really serious had my kidneys been infected. And because of the bladder infection -- which I was diagnosed with at 5 weeks pregnant with Baby #2 -- I went on a 10-day course of antibiotics to knock out the infection; also because of the infection, I tested positive for Group B strep and in turn needed two doses of antibiotics during labor, before delivery, to ensure my little guy would be OK -- something that caused a lot of stress since my first son was born after 45 minutes at the hospital and I didn't know if I'd have 4 hours of labor with Baby #2. All turned out OK for me, however I wanted to share for anyone else who hasn't been tested for a UTI ...

Hi M.,
I'm sorry about what you're going through. You can have bladder issues as a result of a catheter but this sounds extreme. Please let your doctor know. Any issue that you're having after birth, you should discuss with your doctor - waiting til the 6 week visit is only if things are perfectly normal!
Good luck.

Call your OB's office today and ask talk to the nurse. Let her/him know what is going on. Hopefully they can get you in quickly, as I think you should definitely see your doctor. Good luck!

Not exactly,

But I understand that there is a possible side effect from the epidural that paralyzes your bladder.


As for my personal experience, I cannot jump or I will pee myself,
Yell to hard I pee myself

bend the wrong way I pee myself,

So I am loonging forward to the other responses aswell.

I would call my doctor asap. Doesn't right to me. Best of luck.


I gave birth 3 months ago and I had the same problem. It went away after maybe 3 weeks. After that I felt like it happened very little, the it went away without me noticing. You MUST continue to wear the thick pads like they give at the hospital.

the same thing happened to me with my 2nd. i asked my midwife and she said it would come back and it did. i have overactive bladder though and have gone back on meds that i was off of for a few years - i would think i was going to have an accident every time i did a jumping jack or anything like that. but that was probably unrelated. they didn't take me to the bathroom after the birth when i really really had to go. my nurse told me i had to hold it and made we wait an hour. because of that i had so much urine and so much swelling that i had alot of trouble going. the first day i couldn't go at all and the second day, every time i stood up i lost a good amount. thank god for super industrial maxipads. haha. it lasted a while, freaking me out. i did get control back (just not so much when doing jumping jacks). i don't remember how long. try not to worry too much - your not going to be wearing adult diapers for the rest of your life. but since you are so concerned, if you haven't already talked to your doctor about it, you probably should.

I don't know who your doctor is, but you should not have been allowed to leave the hospital with an issue like this and no further instruction. Was your OB aware of this issue?? I had the same problem and it was (If I remember the term correctly) a distended bladder. This happened after the birth of my first child. I had an epidural and a catheter with the delivery, and when I stood up to go to my hospital room after the birth, I just peed everywhere. My doctor put the catheter back in and left it overnight so my bladder & I would have a chance to rest - no getting up to use the bathroom for the most part. Before I was to leave the hospital she removed the catheter and checked to see if I was still having a problem. I was, so I went home with a catheter in and my little pee purse. My OB had me monitor/measure all of my liquid input and output for a week. She also sent me to a urologist, to check and see if she could spot anything unusual with me. After about a week, I returned to my OB, she then did a couple of tests to see if I could hold my urine, and since I could, I did not have to have the cath in anymore. I did see the urologist again for follow-up, but I was fine after that period of REST. Let me tell you that doing Kegels is not going to fix your problem. You need to get to a qualified urologist ASAP. Since this is your 3rd child, you may need to do something more than resting as I did. That was baby #1 for me, and I was only in my twenties, so recovery was easier then. After each of my other children, I began to have some leakage issues, and after baby #4, I ended up having surgery to correct stress incontinence. I'm not saying you need surgery, but if you are walking around with this problem, it's probably getting worse. Call a urologist NOW and explain your problem in detail, and that you need to be seen ASAP!! If you're not sure who to contact, and you trust your OB, call that dr and get a referral. Good Luck!!

PS I hadn't read the other responses before I wrote mine, but I just did and almost all of them are only describing stress incontinence - the jumping, dancing, sneezing, etc. This is not what you have going on, and is more serious. Also, what you're describing was most likely not caused by the cath or epi - things shift and push and move during childbirth and pregnancy - unfortunately one of the joys of birth we can't prevent.

This is a problem that can affect women on some level for months after childbirth (stress incontinence - leaking with jumping, running, sneezing etc.) Your immediate issue is definitely more severe but you still would benefit from seeing a physical therapist who specializes in women's health and/or manual therapy to help regain control and strength of your bladder sphincter. There are good offices in CT and NY, email me if you'd like the locations.
Hope it improves soon!

I advise you to get yourself to your doctor. This is not normal. I am sure that there is a way to fix this, but kegels are not going to help in this case. Good luck with your recovery and congratulations on your new baby.

Hi M.,
I would talk to your doctor since it is so extreme. I didn't know I had any bladder control problems until I was at an outdoor party at my boss's house and a few of us tried bouncing on a trampoline. One bounce and I went race-walking awkwardly to the bathroom - LOL, ugh! My daughter was almost one. Luckily really only my underwear was damp and I just removed it and stayed off the trampoline. Now my daughter's almost 6 and I just recently had a similar issue dancing a little too enthusiasticly at a wedding. The joys of motherhood :) I plan on checking your posts to see if anyone has the cure. In the meantime, I guess I should start doing more kegels.
Good Luck!

While it's not normal, it's also not uncommon to have bladder control issues will after birth. I have two friends who had significant issues after their births, and for several months after that - speak to your ob. He will probably recommend some regimen (possibly including weights) to strengthen your muscles again. It has nothing to do with the catheter, and as far as I know, nothing to do with the epi either (though I don't know anyone who got an epi one hour before birth). Your muscles have just loosened and are having difficulty going back to normal. Good luck and congratulations on your new baby!

Congrats on your baby!! You definitely should be calling your doctor though. My husband's co-worker had a similar situation though her youngest in about 6 so I don't know the whole story but one day she was going to the bathroom and her bladder "fell" whatever the heck that means!! She needed surgery so please don't wait! Call your doctor!!

HI M.. Congrats on baby #3!! I have some loss of bladder control after baby #2 (9lbs 2oz!!) but not as bad as you. Mine was more when coughing or vomiting (after crying.. gotta love hormones!!) My midwife told me that it was from pushing out a 9 lb baby (he came right out too). kegals are the best thing to do. And call y our doctor to see what else might be ok. I went into thte office to get checked at 2 weeks post partum because of it... good luck!

Sorry to respond so late but been busy as you have. I had the same problem after the birth of my child. My gyno refered me to a uroligist and he did a procedure called a bladder sling (its like the bladder sits in a little hammock) because with the pushing i actually pushed my bladder out of place. hope it helps

Call your doctor. You need your ob or a urologist for this one. I had the opposite problem with my second baby--I couldn't pee at all for about 48 hours after the birth and they put the cathater back in after taking it out from the c-section. I was still having problems at the end of a 4 day hospital stay so I was sent home on a cathater (unpleasant) which finally came out 7 days after the baby. After that first week the swelling was less and things began to heal.

This is not normal. Please call your doctor. I had an epidural, was cathetarized and had a c-section. While it took a couple of weeks to be back to normal, nothing like this. Good luck-

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