written by Natalie Pattillo

Body Banter

Dribble Diaries: Pelvic Floor Thera-pee

Last week, I visited with pelvic floor therapist and women’s health goddess, Lindsey Vestal about my leaky faucet. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been living in urinary fear since I was about 12, waaaaay before I birthed my daughter. 

In our first session, I learned that my personal dribble style is Urge Incontinence. Urge (short for urgent) is characterized by the sensation of needing to go and not knowing if you'll make it there in time. It's neurological and stems from communication issues between the brain and bladder. Another type that the majority of women experience is Stress Incontinence, which is a physiological issue due to weak or compromised pelvic floor muscles, causing leaks when the pressure on your bladder increases from coughing, running, jumping, sneezing, etc. So yeah, my ish is urge. #themoreyouknow

When I gave Lindsey the down low, she wasn’t shocked.“Did you wet the bed as a kid? If so, around when did that stop?” she asked.

My sleep streaming accidents ended when I was about 7 or 8 (which is totally normal from a neurological standpoint, Lindsey assured). But I never outgrew the fear of peeing myself during a sleepover or volleyball game. In school, it was especially stressful to only have five minutes to shuffle from one class to another. Was five minutes really enough time to line up for the restroom, grab books or binders from your locker, and scarf down two chocolate chip granola bars (growing girls gotta eat too, yo!)??? I think not. So the anxiety and shame was pretty debilitating early on. I leaked here and there, but thankfully never peed my pants at school.

But, I will never forget my 13th birthday when I invited my closest homegirls to the mall (bc picking out Claire’s jewelry and treating yo'self to Dippin Dots is still ~cool~). When I had to pee, I scurried to the restroom. I quickly locked myself into the stall. But the urge was too great. I soaked my Billabong jeans and low-top black Converses. I felt gross and disappointed in myself for not making it in time. On the plus side though, I realized how truly lucky I was to have friends who didn’t shame me after I whispered what happened through the door. I stayed in the stall while they hustled to buy me another pair of jeans, undies, and flip flops at the nearest Pacific Sunwear. Those queens are still my besties. Support is everything, right?

After sharing that story with Lindsey, she asked, “Did your mom have the same bathroom habits?”

“I mean, yeah, we always planned our long Texas road trips around where the rest stops or gas stations would be,” I responded. Then, Lindsey dropped some knowledge. A truth bomb so specific to her expertise—one that I wouldn’t be able to find with a quick Google search.

 “Well, you might have accidentally learned those behaviors from your mom,” she clarified. “Over time, If you always went ‘just in case’, you might’ve taught your body and brain to trigger that you have to go before your bladder is full.”

She proceeded to tell me that our bladders can accommodate 16 ounces of fluid and the constant urge to go isn’t necessarily a “small or shy bladder” problem! Lindsey said that, at times, urge incontinence can be developed from not trusting our bodies.

Ding! Ding! Ding! That rings so true for me! I told her how impressed I am with my 4-year-old daughter’s bladder control. She pees her pants as frequently as any other Pre-K aged kid. But when says she needs to use the potty during a 15 or 20 minute commute, she usually makes it the whole train ride without an accident. Lindsey smiled and nodded, "Yes, you want to start by trusting your body like your daughter trusts hers." I just gotta say, our 'lil ones are some enlightened beings.

After about an hour of intake, which essentially felt like emotional therapy in the form of pelvic floor help, Lindsey jotted down a few things for me to work on before our next visit.

1) Increase H20 by 5 ounces daily. (No more than that bc you don’t wanna over do it too soon.)

2) Use a water bottle to measure daily water consumption. We’re actually irritating the lining of our bladder if we deprive ourselves from water. I know what you’re thinking, how can more water keep me from peeing myself? See, if we deprive your body/bladder of H20, we increase the concentration of urine, therefore irritating the bladder lining, which actually worsens symptoms of incontinence. Ironic, but makes total sense.

3) Journal urinary frequency. Detail the time of day and length of each pee sesh. While I’m on the porcelain throne, I’ll be counting 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi…and so on.

4) And, I’ll be sporting my pee-proof undies (Lindsey approved!) as often as possible. I’m gonna need peace of mind (and sexy underthings) while I’m on this mission to learn about my beautiful parts below.

*~Have questions, suggestions, or anything specific you want me to try? Send me a note! natalie@shethinx.com~*