Protection of continence in pregnancy, labor and postpartum periods

Rathfisch G., Beji N. K.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF UROLOGICAL NURSING, vol.6, no.3, pp.100-106, 2012 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier


Urinary incontinence (UI) is a common problem among women. Pregnancy and labor are the major risk factors for UI among young and middle-aged women. In some studies, the presence of incontinence before and during pregnancy has been shown to be an independent risk factor for urinary and anal incontinence after delivery and beyond. Recently, the need and consequences of many routine interventions applied during each delivery are questioned on an evidence-based basis. Episiotomy and interventions (forceps, fundal pressure) at the second phase of delivery result in pelvic floor injury by perineal trauma. Similar interventions during delivery pose a risk for urinary and fecal incontinence. Therefore, episiotomy should be avoided as much as possible during delivery, and spontaneous and non-interventional labor opportunities should be created. Pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) is often advised as a conservative management method in UI during pregnancy. Investigations suggest that women with stress, urge or mixed UI should be advised to perform PFMT that is part of the conservative management program. There is some evidence in primiparous women that PFMT may prevent UI on the late weeks of pregnancy and the postpartum period. When postpartum pelvic floor exercises are applied along with feedback, they induce a decrease in postpartum incontinence. Furthermore, motivation and the initiative in reminding women regarding kegel exercises were not found to be effective in the postpartum prevention of UI. Postpartum pelvic floor exercises were not found to be consistent with decreased incidence of fecal incontinence. Multidisciplinary approaches are needed to inform women about the risk of postpartum UI.