This is how I pee first thing in the morning. I have three kids: 1, 3 and 5 years of age. Usually once I make it to the toilet I have the clingy one year old on my lap because she will back arch her head into the tile if I put her down before I get her some breakfast. Close behind is my just turned 3 year old asking me “are you peeing or pooing or peeing and pooing mama?” as she nosely/curiously investigates. Behind her, from downstairs I can here my five year old SCREAMING “mom! mom! MOMMMMMM???!!!” with furious intensity because everything, absolutely everything in his life is done with furious intensity. The doorbell might be ringing, the dogs howling, the pastas boiling over….. and I am peeing as fast as I goddam can so I can hurry up and get downstairs…….
I went to the pelvic floor physio last week as a client. Most of what she told me I was proud to say I knew. The anatomy, the physiology, the typical issues etc. But one question she asked, was so obvious yet so overlooked that I am shocked I had never considered it. Many women suffer stress urinary incontinence when they cough, sneeze or strain. The reason for this incontinence varies from person to person (which is why it is essential to go to a pelvic floor physio for your own individual diagnosis). Usually a woman is given exercises or tools to aid in strengthening certain muscles, or perhaps relaxation techniques to allow those muscles to return completely to resting length so that they are able to contract with optimal tension when needed (ie: coughing, sneezing, straining). Moving forward, we are typically discouraged from placing excessive pressure on the pelvic floor without protection….. so here is the question she asked that floored me: Do you strain when you pee?
Of course this is placing undo stress on my pelvic floor, of course this is a whole lot of downward pressure… How I had never stopped to consider this baffles me. So now I try to take deep breaths and just pee, calmly, without a gun to my head. Think about how many times a day you pee? How many times a day are you straining your supportive tissues and forcing with all your might to hurrrrrrrrryyyyyyy uppppppppp. Day in and day out. My pelvic floor physio sent me home with a bladder diary which is trickier than it sounds. You just read about my peeing dynamic now imagine having to measure the amount of pee and keeping track of how much liquid is consumed. This was more challenging than any food diary. Because what a food diary usually ends up doing is stopping the person from eating all the halloween candy because they dont want to bother writing it down… so they don’t bother eating it in the first place. I didn’t have that luxury with the bladder diary. I still needed to pee even if I didn’t want to write it down. There was no choice.
So along with the exercises, the stretches, the breathing, the posture, everything we do to strengthen and support our body to continue to carry us through this next phase of life…. first and foremost, take that pee time as a moment to yourself (with your baby in your lap :), take a deep breath, relax and slowly, gently, pee with love.