Pregnancy and childbirth is one of life’s most extraordinary experiences which inevitably causes the body to go through many changes, one of which can be light bladder weakness.

The weight of a growing baby...

The weight of a growing baby...

According to recent research from lights by TENA, 1 in 3 women will experience light bladder weakness, with up to 92 percent of mothers admitted to having experienced this at some point during pregnancy or following childbirth. Here are 10 reasons why:

Physical and hormonal changes

The type of bladder weakness experienced during pregnancy and after childbirth is usually stress incontinence, which occurs when extra pressure is put on the bladder and pelvic floor muscles when sneezing, coughing, laughing or even exercising. This involuntary leakage can be caused by many of the physical and hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and childbirth, making the experience much more likely.

Weight of a growing baby

The weight of a growing baby, especially in the third trimester, can put a lot of pressure on the body. As the baby grows, more pressure is put on the pelvic floor muscles and the bladder, resulting in involuntary leaks.

Additional weight gain

Every woman gains weight during pregnancy, it’s impossible not to when eating and drinking for two. This, along with the extra baby weight, can put increased pressure on the bladder and contribute to light bladder weakness.

Pressure from the uterus

During pregnancy, the bladder is under increased pressure from the uterus meaning there is less room to store urine. This increases the likelihood of needing the toilet more often than usual, which can cause undue stress or worry when out and about. For extra confidence, try planning ahead by checking there are facilities nearby and use purpose-made bladder weakness protection like lights by TENA.

Production of progesterone

To help prepare the body for childbirth, the hormone progesterone is produced. This is a muscle relaxant which weakens the effect of the pelvic floor muscles, making it more difficult to stop the flow of urine.

Giving birth

Childbirth can further weaken or even damage the pelvic floor muscles making light bladder weakness more likely in the subsequent months. Be sure to strengthen these crucial muscles throughout pregnanacy with targeted exercises designed to help you regain control. Try downloading lights by TENA’s free My PFF app, which expertly guides women through their pelvic floor training:

Stretching of the pelvic floor muscles

It is no secret that pregnancy and childbirth can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, causing them to overstretch. Unfortunately, not every part of the body instantly ‘bounces back’ to the way it was post-pregnancy, even if pelvic floor exercises are being practiced. Stay patient, keep at it, and eventually symptoms of bladder weakness should start to subside.

Extra fluid

During the first 1-2 weeks after birth, the body will be trying to rid itself of the extra fluid retained during pregnancy. So, if you feel like you’re nipping to the loo every five minutes, don’t panic! Track your toilet visits and raise any concerns with your midwife or GP at antenatal check-ups.


Changes in the urinary tract can sometimes result in urinary tract infections, which in turn, can irritate the inside of the bladder and cause an urgent need to go to the toilet. If you suspect you have an infection, speak to your midwife or GP who can advise the best treatment.


As we have explained, anything that puts pressure on the bladder can cause light bladder weakness, making other health issues, like constipation, a potential trigger. Constipation is more common in pregnancy as the hormone progesterone can cause the digestive system to slow. Eating high-fibre foods can help, but always speak to a GP if you are concerned.

Whilst light bladder weakness is very common occurrence pre-and post-pregnancy, there is a lot that can be done to minimise the effects. Remember to practice pelvic floor exercises regularly and to speak to your GP or midwife you are worried about your symptoms or things don’t get better. Don’t be embarrassed – light bladder weakness is very common and we’ve heard it all before!

For the ultimate security and protection, try lights by TENA’s range of ultra-discreet liners. Specifically designed to deal with unexpected little leaks, each liner features unique FeelFresh Technology™ which combines a quick-dry topsheet and innovative distribution layers to lock in moisture and control odour, providing ultimate discretion and long-lasting freshness for complete peace of mind. 

Written By Dr Hilary Jones 

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