Exercising with Incontinence

New Year’s Day may lead the way when it comes to new gym memberships and plans to get healthy, but these first few weeks of October come in a close second. Anytime is the right time to get into shape but there’s something about the cooler air and that back-to-school vibe that makes autumn a perfect time to renew those fitness goals. Whether it’s a bike ride in the park, a hike in the mountains, or a Zumba class at your local gym, the cooler air invites us all to get moving. 

Sure exercise is a great way to lose weight, but its benefits also include helping to prevent or manage several health conditions, such as diabetes, depression, and several types of cancer. Physical activity also improves your mood by stimulating the brain chemicals that make you happy and helps you sleep better throughout the night. 

Even with all this knowledge many people with incontinence are still hesitant to exercise. If you are one of the 200 million people worldwide with incontinence, exercise is essential. It provides you with a way to lessen or eliminate your condition by curtailing obesity and strengthening your pelvic floor.  Some may be concerned about leaks and other may worry about odors, but there are solutions. Here are five tips to manage incontinence while you get in shape. 

Choose the right clothing

Stick with dark-colored clothes that fit loosely, especially if you wear some form of incontinence pad, and always bring a spare change of clothes just in case accidents occur. You can also try wearing triathlon shorts. In an article in Everyday Health, physical therapist Tasha Mulligan says these shorts “help provide compression and support for you pelvic floor, as well as a light pad to absorb moisture.” 

Choose the right exercise

Mulligan also advises choosing exercises that “lift your chest, lengthen your spine, and reduce bladder pressure, ” such as swimming, yoga, and bicycling. Until your pelvic floor is stronger it’s best to avoid high-impact exercises that include running, jumping, or changing directions quickly. In the meantime, practice those Kegels and be sure to lift and contract your pelvic floor muscles before any type of resistance training. 

Watch what you drink

It’s important to stay hydrated before, during, and after any type of exercise, but stick with water and avoid caffeinated drinks. The caffeine in coffee, tea, and sodas acts as a diuretic and may lead to leaks. However, it’s also important not to overdo the water. Overfilling your bladder increases the risk of leakage. 

Try bladder training

Make sure to use the bathroom immediately before exercising. You may also want to try keeping a bladder diary that keeps track of how often you use the bathroom. After a few days start waiting five minutes before visiting the bathroom. Then stretch it out to 10 minutes. Keep extending the time until you can go for an hour or more between bathroom visits.  

Try a therapeutic pessary

If all else fails, try a pessary, which is a round object (usually made of silicone, rubber, or plastic) that is worn in the vagina to prevent leakage. Resembling the outer ring of a diaphragm, therapeutic pessaries are commonly used to treat a prolapsed uterus. Many women see this as a perfect solution because you can wear it during the day and take it out at night. However, you must see your doctor to make sure it is fitted correctly.

Don’t let incontinence and a fear of leaks keep you from leading an active life. Remaining sedentary not only puts your overall health at risk, but it also eliminates any chance of improving your bladder health. No exercise means potential weight gain, which means more tension placed on your already weak pelvic floor. Keep up with those Kegels and follow the exercises on the Carin app. Then take a walk one cool, fall morning and make sure to kick the newly fallen leaves as you go – your mind and body will thank you for it. 

What Is Normal When It Comes To Urine Loss?

If you are amongst the millions of people throughout the world experiencing urine loss, have you ever wondered, “How much is normal?” or “When should I be concerned?” Where do you draw the line between just ignoring it and calling a doctor? Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer, nothing that differentiates between good amounts and bad amounts. Nothing that says one leak a day is okay and two or more require a trip to the doctor. 

Instead, everyone deals with incontinence differently. For some the occasional leak may be no big deal. They may throw on a pad and get on with their day. Others may be too embarrassed to leave the house. No matter how you feel, it’s important to talk with your doctor because urine loss may be a symptom of bigger issues. Once those issues are ruled out there are some things you can do to ease leaks and possibly eliminate them all together. 

If leaks occur while coughing, exercising, lifting, or any other type of strain, you likely have stress incontinence. This type is the most prevalent, especially with women whose experience with pregnancy and childbirth tend to leave them with weakened pelvic floor muscles. For instance, Jane gave birth to her daughter a year ago but still feels little leaks during intense workouts. Then there is Mary who is six months pregnant and often notices a slight, unpleasant ammonia smell coming from her underwear. Obesity could also be to blame. At nearly 280 pounds Rebecca tires easily, suffers from high blood pressure, and her pelvic floor is weakening under the strain, leading to leaks. With such a wide range of cases, there is no “normal” amount of urine loss, but it’s clear to see that a stronger pelvic floor could provide a solution. 

An occasional dribble here and there is rarely a cause for concern, especially if you are pregnant or recently had a baby.  Pregnancy wrecks havoc on your pelvic floor. It takes time to rebuild the muscles that keep your bladder in place and functioning properly. Some people use pads, but many have found success with Carin. Their underwear is not only ultra absorbent but it’s also comfortable and attractive, a bonus for those already suffering from low self-confidence. However, the underwear is only part of the package. An accompanying app provides six weeks of easy to follow exercises designed to help you find and strengthen your pelvic floor, which goes a long way to eliminating leaks. 

A quick glance through the Internet will tell you any amount of urine loss is a reason to see your doctor, but definitely make an appointment for more severe types of incontinence. For example, urge incontinence, the type that occurs when you suddenly need to urinate and/or are unable to make it to the toilet in time could signify diabetes, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson’s disease. Treatments for urge incontinence include behavioral techniques (bladder training or fluid and diet management), medications, pelvic floor exercises, and even surgery.

Whatever you choose to do about incontinence, do not assume it is just a normal part of aging or having a child. There are solutions and treatments available so do not be ashamed to make that doctor’s appointment. Since there is no “normal” when it comes to incontinence everyone must do what he or she feels is best. Just remember, as mentioned earlier, millions of people suffer from the same condition. You are not alone and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. 

Tips for Perfect Posture

Two women walk into a room. Both are exquisitely dressed with just the right amount of make-up and perfect updos. However, one woman enters the room with her shoulders slumped and her eyes downcast. The next woman walks in, head held high, shoulders back with a big smile for anyone who glances her way. Which woman attracts the most attention? Who will engage the most people? People are attracted to self-confidence and nothing says self-confidence like good posture. Fortunately, there’s help for our first lackluster lady. Bad posture is a habit and like any nasty habit, it can be reversed. It just takes a little time and a little knowledge.

How you carry yourself isn’t just about how you look on the outside. It also has amazing benefits for your insides. Good posture is “the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity,” according to the American Chiropractic Association. “Without posture and the muscles that control it, we would simply fall to the ground.” Maintaining good posture keeps your spine healthy, improves circulation and digestion, and makes breathing easier. The fact that it makes you look slimmer and younger is just a happy bonus.

If bad posture makes us feel so awful, why do we do it? Our mothers, teachers, and coaches have told us for years to “Stand up straight.” So why do we still continue to slouch? Some of us lack the self-confidence to stand tall. Instead, we scrunch our shoulders and hope no one notices us. For others it’s strictly a physical reason. Hours spent slumped over computers are part of the problem.  Obesity, pregnancy, high heels, and weak core muscles also encourage tipping forward, keeping us off balance and contributing to weak posture.

However, perfect posture can be achieved. Your first step is to identify how good posture feels. To do that, stand against a wall with your head, shoulder blades, and bottom touching the wall and your feet just a few inches away from it. There should be an inch of space between the small of your back and the wall.  “That means when you’re standing, your ears should be over your shoulders, your shoulders over your hips, and your hips over your knees and ankles,” according to an article in Yoga Journal. “When any body part falls out of the vertical line, the adjacent support muscles will feel the strain.”

Now that you’re aware of how it feels, let’s discuss some ways to easily maintain that perfect posture. Here are some exercises and strategies for at home and at work.

Flexibility and Balance

 Yoga postures, when done correctly, support the natural curves of a healthy spine, leaving us feeling taller and healthier when we finish. Yoga also helps with balance and alignment.

Strength Training

Planks, back, leg, and arm extensions, and crunches challenge and strengthen the entire body. The pelvic floor exercises included in the Carin app are also great ways to strengthen your core and pelvic muscles. Balance out tight chest muscles with exercises focusing on strengthening the back like bent over rows, pull-ups, and lat pull-downs.

Weight Bearing Exercises

A brisk walk, a run, or a game of tennis are ideal exercises to increase bone mass. Any exercise that forces your body to bear its weight is good for your bones because the impact encourages bone building.

At Work

Make sure your desk and/or chair is at the right height for you. Consult an expert to make sure you sit properly. Stand up and walk away from your desk at least every 20 to 30 minutes because movement decreases the amount of stress on the spinal column.

Support Products

Use props and tools, such as lumbar support pillows and seat wedges, to decrease stress on your spine while sitting. Posture enhancing shirts and sports bras are another option. These support proper posture and train your upper back and core muscles to become stronger. Put a pillow between your legs while you’re sleeping to maintain spinal alignment and don’t forget to sit correctly while driving.

Now that you know what to do, go look at a playground full of school children. Watch them line up and follow their teachers when it’s time to go inside. Their backs are strong and their heads are high. It’s proof that bad posture develops over time, becoming a habit. So stand up straight to feel good on the inside and look great on the outside.

Tips For Travelling With Incontinence

Summer is here and kids are out of school, which means the travel season has begun. Whether you’re off to Rome or cruising to Alaska, summer adventures are memory makers, but that doesn’t mean they’re stress-free. Remembering passports, ticket and hotel reservations, sunscreen, the financial strain of eating out for every meal and the crowds of fellow tourists can make any summer traveler a bit crazy. When you add the stress of incontinence to the mix it’s enough to make anyone prefer to stay home. However, with a little preparation traveling with incontinence can become the least of your worries.

 Consider Bladder Training

The National Association For Continence (NAFC) suggests training your bladder several weeks before leaving for a trip. Training your quadriceps may be easier, but muscles also control the bladder so it is possible to get yours in shape.

Create a bathroom diary.To begin the NAFC site recommends keeping a diary that tracks when you urinate, how long you go between bathroom trips, and any relevant diet information.

Schedule bathroom visits. Then use your diary to figure out how often you use the bathroom and add 15 minutes to create a schedule. For instance, if you find you have to go every hour make it a goal to use the bathroom every hour and 15 minutes. It’s important to make time to use the bathroom even if you don’t have to go. After a few days add another 15 minutes. By gradually increasing the time between breaks you train your bladder and your brain to prolong those frequent trips to the bathroom.

Master those Kegels.These exercises are great for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, which are key to controlling leaks. To find these muscles stop yourself from urinating midstream the next time you go to the bathroom – those are the pelvic floor muscles. You can practice Kegels either lying or sitting down by tightening the muscles and holding for five seconds and then releasing for five seconds. Continue holding and releasing four or five times in a row. Aim for at least three sets of Kegels a day. The exercises found on the Carin app are also a great strengthening option.

Travel Considerations

While a trained bladder will take you far it’s always best to be prepared.  Here are a few tips to consider when planning for your next travel adventure.

 Travelling by plane. Book early and reserve a seat on the aisle and near the bathroom. Use the toilet as close to the boarding time as possible and again soon before landing because it may take awhile to get to the gate. Wear dark clothing to disguise possible leaks. Also remember to bring an extra set of clothes in your carry on bag just in case of accidents, and choose an outfit that is easy to remove because those airplane bathrooms are tiny!

Travelling by car. Make sure your travel partners understand your frequent need for stops and look along the route for restrooms. There are many apps and websites to help you. Check out SitOrSquat, which is an app sponsored by Charmin toilet paper and helps users find public restrooms worldwide. Bathroom Scoutis another app that provides the locations for nearly 1.3 million restrooms throughout the world. The NAFC also provides a tool called “Find a bathroom”that includes the above-mentioned apps plus many more.

Packing.Deciding what to bring for any vacation can be stressful, but it’s doubly important for those with incontinence. Carry a plastic sack and change of underwear in case of accidents while travelling. Bed pads and incontinence underwear are a must. Absorbent underwear, such as those offered by Carin, allows the wearer to feel comfortable about leak protection but without the hassle of bulky pads. Be sure to pack extra clothes and book hotels with laundry facilities.

Keep drinking.You may be tempted to reduce bathroom trips by cutting back on liquids. Don’t. Dehydration is a very real danger while traveling. It’s important to drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated. However, it is recommended to cut back on beverages that are tougher on the bladder such as alcohol, coffee, and soft drinks.

As with most things a little preparation at the beginning goes a long way, especially when it comes to traveling with incontinence. Knowing the locations of the nearest bathroom, getting the aisle seat, and packing plenty of spare clothes helps you to relax. If accidents do occur, focus on staying calm, knowing you are prepared, get through it, and get back to enjoying your summer adventures.

 

Managing the Mood Swings of Menopause

Drastic mood swings  – an emotional roller coaster of irritation, depression, and anger – define the years leading up to menopause, otherwise known as perimenopause.  Studies show that one in four women will experience symptoms of depression and emotional irritability during this time. Many women experience some form of emotional instability before her period is set to begin (PMS), but with time these symptoms tend to last longer and become more severe. Unfortunately, why this occurs is still unclear.

“We all know that there is a correlation between your hormones and your moods, but we really don’t understand it,” says Susan Love, MD, in her book Dr. Susan Love’s Menopause and Hormone Book.“The hormonal changes don’t actually cause the depression, but they change your body’s equilibrium, so that a situation that would normally upset you a little upsets you a lot, and a situation that would normally upset you a lot devastates you.”

Fortunately, there are ways to take control of your emotions and make this transition bearable for you and your family. Here are just a few suggestions:

Control Hot Flashes

Hot flashes can make even the happiest women moody. Keeping your house cool and wearing layers and/or loose clothing may provide some relief. Tight clothing can make hot flashes more intense. So trade in your leggings for looser, more comfortable clothing, at least until your symptoms ease.

Adding soy to your diet could also help. “The average woman in Japan (where hot flashes are relatively rare) eats four to six servings of soy per day,” says Christine Northrup, MD, in her book The Wisdom of Menopause. Some may also benefit from meditation. “Studies show meditation can cool hot flashes in 90 percent of women, without any hormonal therapy at all,” says Northrup. “This is because meditation lowers stress hormone levels.”

Manage Insomnia

A good night’s sleep is another victim of perimenopause. “Insufficient sleep leaves us obviously drowsy, fatigued, and irritable,” says Northrup, which makes this transition just that much harder. She blames insomnia on “unresolved emotions such as anger, sadness, or anxiety, which often accompany the enormous changes of midlife.” She suggests establishing and sticking to a firm bedtime, even on weekends, to give you sufficient sleep. Follow that up with a soothing nighttime ritual that includes dressing comfortably and writing down everything that is bothering you so you won’t run through it “like a gerbil on a wheel” while trying to get to sleep.

Regular Exercise

There is no scientific proof that exercise reduces hot flashes or insomnia, but it can improve your self image, which goes a long way to improving your mood. Other benefits of regular exercise include, according to the Mayo Clinic, keeping your weight in check, reducing cancer risks, improving bone health, reducing risks for other diseases such as diabetes, and it’s a proven mood enhancer.

If you’ve been out of the exercise habit for a while, Christine Northrup recommends you just start moving. “Movement is contagious. Today’s dancing around your living room will eventually wake up enough of your muscles that you’ll want to do more.” Keep trying new activities until you find some you enjoy. Hate running? Go for a walk or bike ride. Just remember to include some strength training because lifting weights can slow down and even improve bone loss.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

If lifestyle changes do not work, your doctor may suggest hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Some see this therapy as a last resort because it has been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke. However, for those suffering from menopausal symptoms the relief it provides may be worth it. “If you have moderate to severe symptoms that are sufficient to interfere with your life, then by all means take HRT – but not for more than four to five years” says Jacques Rossouw, MD, and director of the Women’s Health Initiative in an article in Everyday Health. “And in most cases it’s not even necessary to take it that long.”

Prioritize Self-care

“It’s something women know intuitively but often ignore: You have to take care of yourself,” says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, in Everyday Health. The author of What Every Woman Needs to Know About Menopausesays, “De-stress daily through deep breathing, yoga, exercise, or even by talking with a good friend or your spouse. Spend time alone. Don’t smoke, eat healthfully, and stay active. These things are crucial for keeping your mood steady.”

That last one is the most important. Your body and mind are going through intense changes. Northrup likens it to puberty. “Externally and internally, this period is a mirror image of adolescence, a time when our bodies and brains were also going through major hormonal shifts that gave us the energy to attempt to individuate from our families and become the person we were meant to be.” However, the pressures of life as a teenager differ greatly from those we currently experience. The pressures of balancing careers and family life take their toll. Be kind to yourself, and your body and mind will thank you, making this difficult transition that much easier to handle.

 

 

What Gifts Do New Moms Really Want

This Sunday is Mother’s Day. A day set aside to shower mothers with flowers, brunches, cards, and phone calls, anything and everything to let them know just how much they mean to us.

But what about soon-to-be moms? The supply list for new babies is endless – strollers, diapers, baby clothes, changing tables, etc. and every new mom will be grateful for whatever she receives. But what gift means the most to them? What is something they will treasure forever? I posed this question to several women from all over the world, some with young children and others with whose children now have babies of their own. Here is what they had to say:

Sophie Giraffe was the best present I was given when my youngest daughter was born. It’s a rubber teether in a giraffe shape. It’s certainly not cheap but worth the money. I now buy one for every newborn baby I know.

-Hollie, England, mother of two

For my first child, a friend’s grandma knitted a cardigan for him. All my children had that cardigan for their first months. By the time my friend had his first child the grandma had passed. We gave him the cardigan. He said it was the best present. When I was pregnant with my second child a good friend was suffering from depression. I asked her to knit a blanket as a gift. It helped her to work on something and focus. It was the best gift my daughter received. She still has it even if it now seems really small.

        -Christie, France, mother of three

A week or so after delivering my first child, a friend called to tell me she was coming to see us and the new baby. I was living at the Oregon Coast at the time and she lived about an hour and half away near Portland. When she arrived I offered the baby to her, but she said, “First I’m going to clean your house. Show me your cleaning supplies.” She said someone had done that for her and it was the nicest gift she was given. She swept, vacuumed, dusted, loaded the dishwasher, just light cleaning, but it meant I didn’t have to do it. I was struggling with postpartum depression and not producing enough milk to feed my daughter at the time so I wasn’t up for much of anything. It was the perfect gift.

         -Wendy, United States, mother of two

When Caleb was one he was teething and it was terrible. He was so uncomfortable. To help soothe him we would lie on a blanket under the apple tree. We’d listen to a pair of doves that lived in the nearby tree while watching the light through the leaves. My hubby bought me a swing and installed it under this apple tree for Mother’s Day that year. Caleb also cut five teeth that weekend – two of the best gifts. Seventeen years later Caleb has lost those teeth, but I still have that swing.

       Victoria, United States, mother of one

I was so grateful to receive a traveling nursing pillow, which my son now uses as a pillow in his crib. I was also really happy to get a personalized book from Wonderbly. My mum gave us “The Boy Who Lost His Name.” It’s about a little boy who goes on adventures to find his name. Each adventure gives him a new letter and by the end of the story the letters spell my son’s name. It’s such a cute and personal gift.

         -Jaimee, Canada, mother of one

A few years ago I met a traditional Mexican midwife during a workshop here in the Netherlands. When it came time to discuss life postpartum her first question was what kind of gift do new mothers usually receive here? What followed was mostly silence with some mentioning jewelry or flowers. Then she said that in Mexico a cerrada, or closing ceremony, is the customary gift. The new mother is massaged, given an herb bath, and her belly is wrapped and cared for. This several hours of pampering, this  “mothering the mother gift,” should be mandatory everywhere. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn about this pampering until after my sons were born, but I found it very inspiring.

-Daleep, Russia, mother of two

I gave birth to my son 27 years ago and still remember the moment of the gift. It was a diamond ring that had been in my husband’s family for at least 50 years. My mother-in-law gave it to me to celebrate the first grandson from both of our families.

  -Naldy, Brazil, mother of two

Personally, my father gave me the gift of sleep. When my youngest son was just a few weeks old he woke constantly during the night and refused to go back to sleep. I averaged about two hours a night and could barely function during the day. Fortunately, my parents were staying with me and my father told me to call him if Parker wouldn’t go back to sleep. Sure enough one night at 3 a.m. Parker refused to sleep. I called to my father and he came down those narrow Dutch stairs, took Parker from me, and let me go back to bed. I slept 5 hours that night. Best gift ever!

            -Cristin, United States now Belgium, mother of two

Though it’s important to remember that the perfect gift for new moms may not always come from a store, anything designed to make their lives a little easier will be appreciated. Many of the responses I received included books, teeny-tiny clothes, mountains of diapers, and good advice (“always sleep when the baby is sleeping”). Being a new mom is amazing, overwhelming, and often exhausting. For those looking for the perfect gift know that sometimes just being there is present enough. Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

 

 

Stress and Incontinence

There is little doubt that we lead stressful lives. In a recent study by the American Psychological Association, 80 percent of Americans claim their stress level has increased or stayed the same over the last year. Some blame technology and how social media dominates our every waking moment. Others look to our need to multi-task and the sheer speed of our modern lives, making it difficult to slow down and be present in the world. This constant stress takes its toll. Common effects of stress on your mind and body include headaches, sleep problems, depression, anxiety, and irritability. If left unchecked, chronic stress could lead to cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attacks.

Now take the stress of everyday life and add the anxiety that comes with incontinence to the mix. The feelings of social isolation, loss of control, and decreased confidence are overwhelming to many people. The fear of public accidents keep some from pursuing activities they once enjoyed like travel, exercise, and other social activities. These worries compound over time creating even higher levels of stress and anxiety, which could worsen symptoms. One study found that “women with anxiety (were) more likely to report worsening lower urinary tract symptoms.”

According Stress Relief Resources, this increase in symptoms could be due to certain neurotransmitters, which are formed from amino acids and allow cells to communicate with each other. “When you feel the effects of mental or emotional stress, these neurotransmitters tell all the other cells to get ready to either stand up to the stress or to run away from it.” The article continues: “They stimulate other neurotransmitters and also our cells to respond in ways that physically affect you by evoking three major physiological processes: your reaction to pain, your tendency to succumb to depression, and your control of unexpected bladder leakage.”

Fortunately, there are ways to ease stress and live a more mindful life. Here are five popular methods for stress relief:

1. Exercise

No list of healthy habits would be complete without mentioning exercise. By raising your heart rate during exercise you’re actually subjecting your body to a low-level type of stress. When you make regular physical activity a part of your life this low-level stress helps your body handle the outside stresses of life better. It also gives you energy and increases your confidence, which women who experience incontinence tend to lack. Plus exercise just makes you feel good by releasing dopamine, a chemical that plays a role in happiness, into your brain.

2. Avoid procrastination

Thomas Jefferson once said, “Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today.” Procrastination is a horrible habit. It brings temporary relief by putting off unpleasant tasks, but adds stress to our lives because those tasks still need to be done. The more we procrastinate, the more tasks build up, increasing our anxiety. Like any bad habit, eliminating procrastination requires a plan. Prioritize your tasks and create a schedule that allows you to get things done but still allows for some free time.

3. Limit caffeine

There’s a reason so many of us require a cup (or two, or three) of coffee to get us going in the morning. Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks. Ingesting too much could lead to increases in the stress hormone cortisol. High and prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream could lead to high blood pressure and blood sugar imbalances. In moderation caffeine could be fine, but if you already suffer from high levels of anxiety, it may be best to switch to herbal teas.

4. Spend quality time with friends and family

One study found that spending time with friends and family helps women release oxytocin, a natural stress reliever. Quality time does not mean a rushed family dinner, “liking” a friend’s Facebook post, or time spent traveling to tennis lessons.  Instead, spend an afternoon hiking the trails with your best friend or have a family game night rather than watching T.V. Creating memories is a great stress reliever.

5. Practice mindfulness

“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us,” according to the website Mindful. Yoga and meditation are both excellent ways to practice mindfulness. Yoga has been shown to lower stress hormone levels and blood pressure. Meditation clears your mind. It’s not easy to rid your mind of to-do lists or past regrets. Instead give yourself five minutes to sit comfortably and breathe deeply. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to the present by focusing on your breath. It takes time and practice to cultivate mindfulness but it’s worth every moment.

These are just a few examples of ways to relieve stress. Some, such as yoga, limiting caffeine, and physical activity, have also been found to relieve symptoms of incontinence. Using deep breathing techniques and strengthening pelvic floor muscles provide greater control and confidence when it comes to facing incontinence. Take the time to practice stress relief. Your body and mind will thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The effect of incontinence throughout a woman’s life.

Perimenopausal Women

Mia kept her head down and walked as fast she could to the nearest bathroom. By the time she reached the stall and locked herself in, tears were streaming down her burning cheeks. Before she even looked, she knew she was soaked through. Mia breathed in deeply, her lips trembling as she tried to calm herself. She finally looked down. Her light denim jeans had large wet patches around the top of her thighs. A sob escaped as Mia tried to think of how she could get through the shopping centre back to her car without anybody noticing. She pulled her jumper off, despite the freezing weather and tied it tightly around her waist. Then she wiped her face, blew her nose and collected herself. As she walked briskly through the busy shops, abandoning the groceries she had come for, she was aware of the smell of urine lingering around her. Mia wondered, for possibly the millionth time, how she could be a fifty-year-old woman, yet feel like a toddler not quite grasping the skill of toilet training. Once safely inside her car, she placed her head down on her steering wheel and questioned how life had suddenly become so hard.

Post Childbirth

Angela stared at her baby, sleeping peacefully in his cot. She leaned over and gently ran her finger over his pink cheek. He was a good baby. A perfect one when compared to the struggles some of her friends were going through. Angela sighed and went to the living room to sit on the couch. She didn’t know what else to do. Her days were all the same, stuck inside the four walls of her home. Her mother thought she was depressed and kept encouraging her to go for long walks. One of her friends had suggested she join a mother’s group for company. Her husband wondered if she should make some coffee dates, after all, the baby was well behaved and would most likely sleep in his pram. But they didn’t understand. Angela had almost gone out that very morning. The sun was shining and she’d felt particularly cheerful. But then she’d sneezed. Her bladder had emptied, right there on the carpet of her bedroom and she’d spent the next half an hour cleaning urine from the floor. She couldn’t go anywhere. The thought sat like led in her stomach, all the time. Was this what life would be like forever? Angela wondered, yet again.

Ageing Women

Beth had raised five children and helped in the raising of twelve grandchildren. She was a woman with a solution for everything, nothing could phase her. But as she purchased the packet of adult nappies, she felt defeated for the first time in her life. After months of accidents though, she couldn’t put it off any longer. Sometimes, it would be just a trickle of urine, when she laughed particularly hard. But then there were the times she’d cough or sneeze and there was no stopping the flow. That very morning had been the worst. Beth’s daughter came over for tea, and as Beth took a bite of her cake, a little caught in her throat, causing a coughing fit. Beth still felt the deep shame in seeing her daughter staring, open-mouthed, at the small puddle gathering beneath her feet. She couldn’t let that happen again, even if it meant feeling as though she were losing her dignity.

Incontinence is not a life sentence. Women can regain their freedom and confidence by seeking treatment.

Do you relate to one of these women? Incontinence affects one in three women at some point in their life and many do not seek treatment.  Women often endure the stigma associated with incontinence in private, feeling shame and humiliation. However, it does not need to be this way.  Urine leakage does not have to be a permanent condition. By seeking help from health professionals or by using a product such as Carin Wear, women can discover the empowerment of taking control over their recovery and regaining their life. As women, let’s support each other by sharing our experiences and spreading the hope that seeking treatment offers.

Karyn Sepulveda is an Australian author of Women’s Fiction and host of the podcast ‘Letters To Our Yesterday’. Check out her work at: www.karynsepulveda.com

 

 

Empowered by Carin

One month ago I began a journey of empowerment, a long journey to regain the strength and confidence I let slide for nearly 10 years. I vowed to follow the program on the Carin app designed to strengthen my pelvic floor. In addition, I would stick with an eating and exercise program to improve my overall health. I knew it would be challenging because not only am I the queen of procrastination, but I also give up when things get uncomfortable – never a good combination. However, I knew that if I wanted to stop living a life of regret, I had to stick to my goals.

I told myself “four weeks, just give it four weeks.” You know what? I did it. I stuck with it for four weeks and am still going strong. I switched to a plant-based diet, focusing on whole foods – nothing processed. I incorporated strength training and cardio in my exercise routine and practiced yoga every day. At the end of each yoga session I spent 10 minutes following the exercises on the Carin app. Since I began in February I’m pleased to say that I’ve lost five pounds (about 2.5 kilos) and no longer experience any leaks.

Carin makes it easy

Carin made strengthening my pelvic floor so simple. Each day I kept track of my liquid intake on the app. I keep my phone in the kitchen so I could log in anytime I had a cup of tea, water, or the occasional glass of wine. Once a week I wore the underwear and monitor throughout the day and during the night. Then, once I synced the monitor to the app, I could see my progress.

My first cycle registered barely a dribble. During the second cycle I had the flu, coughing uncontrollably for nearly two weeks, which led to much higher measurements. Then I remembered something I saw near the end of the Week 1 exercises. I should tighten my pelvic floor muscles every time I cough. I tried it and when I measured the following week nothing showed up, even though I was coughing constantly. The remaining cycles have also been clear. If only following the diet and motivating myself to exercise was as easy!

Carin’s comfort and effectiveness

My monitoring time may be done, but I will definitely continue to wear the underwear. It’s not only pretty but also extremely comfortable. It holds its shape after numerous washings and contours my body perfectly. While the underwear is great and the whole monitoring process is fascinating, it’s the exercise program, both its pace and content, that really sells me on Carin.

Nancy Cuppen, a sport professional with 15 years of athletic instruction, designed Carin’s exercise program. The program is split into several cycles. You spend the first cycle just getting to know how to locate your pelvic floor. The strengthening exercises begin during the second cycle. A stability ball and an exercise mat come in handy here. These exercises may look simple on the video, but you can really feel them working.  The first few sessions I was grateful they were only 10 minutes. By the end of the cycle, however, I was ready to move on.  As each cycle progresses the exercises get more and more challenging. A stronger pelvic floor not only benefits incontinence, but improves your posture as well. I certainly notice myself sitting straighter and walking taller.

 What’s next?

I feel great. Not only do I feel lighter in my body but also lighter in my mind. I no longer have to carry around the guilt and regret of not following through on my goals. I’m grateful to Carin for making the program so easy to follow, which has made it easier to pursue other goals. I’m now officially hooked on the plant-based lifestyle. This spring I’ll be running my first half-marathon in nearly 20 years. I still have a long way to go but I’m off to a great start!

 

Are Late Night Bathroom Trips Keeping You Awake?

We all know that a good night’s sleep is vital for a healthy mind and body. Adequate sleep improves your memory, creativity, attention span, and weight loss. It also reduces stress, depression, and may even help you to live longer. Experts agree that we need at least seven hours of sleep a night to reap its benefits. However, one in three people do not get enough sleep, according to the Center for Disease Control. The blame is often put on our fast-paced lifestyles, our addiction to electronic devices, and our need to always do more – send one more email, reply to one more text. We live in a society that views getting by on four hours of sleep as a badge of honor.

But what happens when you do go to sleep on time but have trouble staying asleep? What can you do when you have to use the bathroom once, twice, or three times a night? One in three adults over the age of 30 experiences nocturia, the frequent need to urinate during the night, says the Urology Care Foundation. Researchers agree that this loss of sleep leads to decreased health and sense of well being, contributing to fatigue, increased risk of heart disease, memory loss, and depression. Fortunately, there are actions you can take to reduce and/or eliminate those nocturnal trips.

Limit beverages. Stop drinking any liquid two to four hours before bedtime. Limit alcohol and caffeine, which are known to stimulate the bladder, all day long.

 Keep a diary. The Cleveland Clinic suggests beginning with a voiding diary. Keep a record of your drinking and how often you urinate. Pay special attention to how much you go during the day and night. By monitoring your habits you may be able to find a pattern you can then modify. You may also discover potential problems. They say “If you’re urinating more than eight times in 24 hours, that’s too much.”

Tighten that pelvic floor. Yes, here is another area where strong pelvic muscles can benefit by improving bladder control. Kegel exercises, yoga, and following the exercises on the Carin App are all excellent ways to strengthen these all-important muscles.

Check for sleep apnea. Our bodies produce an anti-diuretic hormone during deep sleep, that allows us to retain more fluid overnight, says the Cleveland Clinic. Because people with sleep apnea don’t reach that level of deep sleep, their bodies can’t make enough of this hormone. Oxygen levels also drop during apnea episodes causing the kidneys to excrete more water.

Talk to your doctor. If you’ve tried changing your lifestyle with little success, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Frequent bathroom trips during the night could be more than just a nuisance. They could signify underlying health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, liver failure, and Parkinson’s.

Tips For A Good Night’s Sleep

Still having trouble sleeping? There could be other issues involved. In her book The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time, Arianna Huffington offers several ways to get a good night’s sleep. Following these tips won’t only help you initially fall asleep faster, but they will also help you go back to sleep if you wake up during the night.

Turn off the e-readers and keep all electronic devices out of the bedroom. “That blue light,” says Huffington, “the sort given off by our ubiquitous electronic devices, is especially good at suppressing melatonin – which makes it especially bad for our sleep.” If you must read before bed, choose a real book and a bedside lamp with a soft light.

Keep your bedroom cool and have a window open. The ideal temperature is 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 18 degrees Celsius). “We know that a cool bedroom environment is key to getting a good night’s sleep,” says Natalie Dautovich from the National Sleep Foundation, and a small drop in body temperature can prompt sleep signals to our brain.

Be sure to exercise and maintain a healthy diet. Daily exercise, even as little as 20 to 30 minutes a day, helps calm our minds when it’s time to sleep. When it comes to diet what not to eat is more important than what you do eat. Stay away from big, heavy meals near bedtime.

Stop worrying about endless to-do lists. That’s easier said then done, but practicing meditation and yoga does wonders to calm your mind. Huffington uses a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson to help quiet her mind as she tries to sleep. He said, “Finish every day, and be done with it…You have done what you could – some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in, forget them as fast as you can, tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it well and serenely, and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to sleep through the night, wake up refreshed, and be ready to tackle the day? With a little planning and work it is possible. Do you have other remedies for getting a good night’s sleep? Please share them in the comments. We would love to hear from you. For now I wish you all a good night.