Let’s face it, once you’ve become a mum, it feels like your bladder never goes back to being what it once was. Whether you seem to spend half your day dashing to the toilet, or peeing a little when you sneeze or laugh, bladder weakness is a real issue face by most mums at some stage. Although we seem to be very good at laughing this matter off, what we really need is open, honest discussion about it and so today on the “What is it really like…” series I’m thrilled to have Carol Smillie, TV presenter and co-creator of DiaryDoll to talk about what it’s like to live with bladder weakness and what we can do about it.
Can you share a little with us about your experience with bladder weakness?
I was one of the classic cases of a mum wanting to join her kids on the trampoline, but only managed 3 bounces, before I got the shock of my life!
What are some of the emotions bladder weakness brings to the surface?
This is a silent epidemic, (1 in 3 women) and we don’t discuss it, because of fear of judgement. We automatically assume we must be ‘losing it’ and life in a care home is looming, when in fact, for the majority of women, it is very easily fixed with pelvic floor exercise.
Despite the fact that so many women suffer bladder weakness, it still seems to be a taboo subject – why do you think that is?
We started DiaryDoll as a product for heavy periods, and at that time, I thought THAT was taboo, but I now realise that women think that if they’re still having periods, that means they’re still young! Light stress incontinence can happen as young as mid-twenties, we all know we should do our pelvic floor exercises, but when you have a new baby, you are busy, knackered, and real life gets in the way. It’s never to early or too late to start!
How does bladder weakness affect a woman’s confidence do you think and what can we do about it?
It affects everything. What we wear, what we do , where we go, and they subconsciously begin ‘toilet mapping’ working out in their heads, where the nearest loo is, and how long it will take to get there. That can really wear you down. Women are incredible, they deal with monthly periods, childbirth, menopause, and then nature flings them a curved ball by kicking them in the teeth, and making them feel demoralised with pelvic floor weakness! I would love to see the media approach change, and be less about finger pointing and humiliation, and more about useful guidance and help.
What are some of the myths surrounding bladder weakness that need to be debunked?
a) you’re not old and ‘past it’
b) you’re not alone, it’s surprisingly common
c) doesn’t just happen when you’re old!
d) it can happen to men too
e) it can very easily be corrected
f) having a caesarean does NOT make you immune
6. Let’s talk pelvic floor exercises – just how important are they?
Crucial. There are even apps out there to help! Having a baby is a huge trauma on your body, and you need to look after it post childbirth. That includes exercising that pelvic floor muscle regularly. Not enough importance is put on this either in hospitals or schools. Young girls think it will never happen to them, and regard it as an ‘old lady’ problem, but the younger they start, the better.
What practical tips do you have for women living with bladder weakness?
There are a huge range of products available to help, including DiaryDoll, but a life free of worry, is the goal, so take control and don’t let it ruin your life.
If there was only one thing you could say to women living with bladder weakness it would be…
You are NOT alone! Go and see your GP and find out more about the why’s and wherefores of your own case. There may be a variety of reasons why it’s happened and you’ll be surprised how very easily it can be fixed.
DiaryDolls are pretty clever pants with a secret waterproof panel for life’s little leaks. They’re machine washable at 40 degrees and can even be tumble dried on low heat. They come in four pretty colours in sizes 6-20 available at www.diarydoll.com and www.boots.com.