There are taboos, and then there are taboos.
This is one of those ones. You know, an issue that so many of us face but don’t talk about because it’s not that nice and we wish it wasn’t happening to us.
Well, I’m 38, I’ve carried three near ten pound boys wayyy over term, and given birth naturally to each of them. After all that, my poor pelvic muscles are shot to pieces. I made three beautiful boys and that’s the aftermath. I pee when I laugh, cough, sneeze, or run, jump… You get the idea.
I don’t think that there’s a UK mothers’ discussion board anywhere on the internet that hasn’t got a thread talking about this, and yet we all feel ashamed when it’s happening to us.
So, I’m saying it. I’m not ashamed because it’s not my fault. When I laugh too much, I pee my pants. Yep. If I’m running (even to the toilet) there’s a chance I won’t make it. Not because I’m lazy or dirty, just because my body, postpartum, is wrecked in that area. It feels horrible to admit it. It feels dirty – and I can’t change it. Even the name sounds bad. Urinary stress incontinence. It feels like it’s a personal failing.
I don’t have a friend who’s given birth naturally and doesn’t suffer with it – but the shame we feel is worse. I happen to know that my mum asks my sister to stand guard in the aisle at her supermarket whilst she buys her pads, in case anyone she knows walks by and sees her. That makes me so sad.
Like most body issues we encounter in our lives, it’s not happening because we’ve been neglectful of our bodies.
If I was French, I more than likely wouldn’t need to be talking about it – because the French take it so seriously that every woman is given sessions of physical therapy after birth if needed, which is compensated by their social security system. When I left hospital, I was told to practice my pelvic floor exercises. I did. They didn’t (and don’t, despite doing them every.single.day.) work very much.
I spoke to my midwife last week about it, who told me that there is help out there – but that oddly, midwives cannot refer mothers to it and it has to be requested at your GP’s office. I’ve waited six years to see a neurologist for blindness in pregnancy (I finally have) and so my hope isn’t high there. I can’t begin to imagine how long a waiting list would be if it were advertised that there was help available.
For those of us with weakened muscles, it’s pretty much a case of prevention of embarrassment being more readily available than cure. If you are struggling with your knees together on occasion like me, and there’s no help in sight, Tena is here to help with their very feminine Lights by Tena range, to help with those ooooops moments when you’re out and about and exerting your body with your little ones.
Their range is gorgeous, which is an odd thing to say, but it’s true. There are four delicate looking products available, with a pink pop to the packaging. The liners differs in size, shape and absorption level so there’s a product for everyone. I love the long liners and the single wrap liners, as being with the boys out and about, there’s no knowing how I’ll need to contort myself if they get into mischief, and I love the safe feeling I get – and the single wrap liners are discreet enough to carry anywhere, even in my pocket.
The liners have a very fresh feeling to them and are so thin that I barely notice them. There’s no risk of them looking bulky or showing with tighter fitting clothing, they’re so well designed. I now wouldn’t be without them. After I tried them, I wondered what others had to say about them and the comments, whilst positive, were unsurprisingly pretty sad.
Our attitude towards our bodies post partum is deeply upsetting. We’re experiencing a side effect of carrying a baby, creating a life, and most of us are silently ashamed. The best reviews I read online were short – “do what they’re supposed to” – and I say this, because most of them were just full comments like, “Home delivery is the least embarrassing option”.
No, it’s not fun, it’s not fair, but it is a very common aspect of motherhood – and so I’m grateful that Tena are bringing the discussion into the open. Most of us have our own ooooops moments and for them, Tena has a product for everyone’s level of need….
…Yep, there’s a Tena for everyone…which coincidentally gave him an oooooops moment of his own to bring out for his or his 18th/21st/Wedding.