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1 in 3 new mums wet themselves

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A new booklet about managing continence after childbirth is available from the Continence Foundation of Australia

Developed by the Continence Foundation on behalf of the Australian Government, the One in Three Women Who Have Ever Had a Baby Wet Themselves booklet outlines information and advice to mums on how to manage and in many cases, cure incontinence after pregnancy.

Continence Foundation CEO, Rowan Cockerell said incontinence is a surprisingly common condition but most cases can be better managed, and even cured.

“Thirty per cent of women experience incontinence and more than half the women living with incontinence are younger than 50.  Yet for all the Australians experiencing incontinence, 70 per cent of sufferers do not discuss the problem and its crippling impact on their lives with anyone,” she said.

“Incontinence can be a socially and emotionally debilitating condition – which can get worse with ageing if left untreated.  And the more babies you have, the greater your risk of experiencing incontinence,” said Ms Cockerell. 

“For many mums, exercising, sneezing or laughing can trigger leakage, which can in turn cause anxiety, stress and embarrassment. Yet, many choose to simply avoid it.  Those who ignore the issue are often unaware of the impact incontinence has on their lifestyle, whether it be avoiding exercise or limiting social engagements for fear of an embarrassing accident,” she said.

“While this condition is frighteningly common, it is not a normal part of ageing or having a baby and women should not have to live with it.  Effective treatment is available to better manage, and in many cases cure incontinence in post-partum women.  The One in Three Women booklet is a handy support reference to help mums do just that,” she said.

Ms Cockerell said stress incontinence, most commonly experienced by new mums, is often the result of poor pelvic floor strength, which can be comprehensively addressed.

“With so many things on their plates, mums often feel they have no time to address their incontinence, but the new booklet, along with our National Helpline, can offer mums help and assistance to quickly and confidently manage the issue and get them back into the swing of life,” she said.

“Treatment usually involves simple lifestyle changes and pelvic floor muscle exercises, which everyone should be doing anyway to prevent incontinence.”
 
Assistance for stress incontinence:

Ms Cockerell said the by-products of improving incontinence are many.
 
“The struggles of being a mum are many and real, but if every mum can invest just a little time to address her continence issues, she will regain not only control of her bladder, but also greater sense of wellbeing which will help in this most important job of hers,” she said.
 
The One in Three Women booklet complements a range of resources for new mums including The Pregnancy Guide and The Pregnancy Pelvic Floor Plan App 
 
The Continence Foundation of Australia is a not-for-profit organisation and the national peak body for bladder and bowel health awareness, management and advocacy. The Foundation is funded by the Australian Government under the National Continence Program.
 

  Fast facts:

  • About 4.8 million Australians – 1 in 4 people older than 15 are incontinent.

  • By 2030, the prevalence is estimated to increase to 6.5m Australians.

  • 80% of people living with incontinence are women

  • More than half of the women with incontinence are younger than 50

  • The majority of people affected by incontinence can be cured or better managed.

  • People with incontinence also commonly experience depression and anxiety.

  • Incontinence impacts self-esteem, motivation, dignity and independence.

  • In 2010, the total economic cost of incontinence was estimated to be $66.7bn and rising.

  • Incontinence is more prevalent than asthma (more than 2 million), anxiety disorders (2.3 million) and arthritis (3.1 million).               

 

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