Here at Lily Bird we feature stories written by smarty pants women from our community. That’s because telling your bladder who’s boss is better as a team sport. These women get you. They’re in your corner. And they’re here to remind you that your body isn’t broken. Hey, bodies age, bladders leak, and movie sequels bomb. Right?
If you’re ready to stop praying to the porcelain gods, our friend Marla is here with advice that will help you own the throne.
A long-distance car ride, or even tent camping, always reminds me how much that little organ known as the bladder controls my life. Those activities often trigger “just in case peeing” and other bathroom no no’s.
But, hitting up the bathroom when you don’t really have to is detrimental to your bladder and can even lead to incontinence. Besides just in case peeing, maybe you’ve developed other bad bathroom habits like rushing through urination, hovering, or giving into urges. Or maybe you drink coffee and soda nonstop, which keeps your bladder irritated and hyperactive all day.
Have no fear. Read on for ways to break those bad habits and whip your bladder into shape. It’s time to own the (porcelain) throne and be the queen that you are.
Just like men and kids, your bladder is trainable
If you head to the bathroom on autopilot, the first step is to become more aware of your behaviors and habits – from how often you go to if you rush through urination. Truly, it is your brain, not your bladder, that should be in control.
Guess what? It’s totally possible to retrain your bladder to gradually hold more urine and reduce urges and leaks. The idea is to resist the urge to urinate and establish more of a set schedule. Here are a few tips to get started:
- Start by setting a goal. Do you want to go to the bathroom less frequently? Or sleep through the night? Do you want to camp, hike or kayak without obsessing about a bathroom? Do you want to have wine with friends or go out for date night and not be interrupted by the urge to pee? It’s helpful to know what you’re training for!
- Aim to urinate every 2-3 hours, or an average of 6-8 times a day, and try to sleep
through the night.
- Don’t hold it for too long! If you wait more than 6 hours on a regular basis, you can overstretch your bladder and increase your risk for urinary tract infections
and urinary retention issues.
- Avoid fluids 3 hours before bedtime.
- Cut back on bladder irritants, especially later in the evening.
- Drink 6-8 cups of fluid, preferably water, throughout the day.
- Don’t forget your Kegels!
- Don’t underestimate the power of distracting yourself for a few minutes.
- Reward yourself for reaching your goal.
You can also check out our more detailed guide on bladder training.
Relax, breathe, ohmmm your leaks away
Do you ever go to the bathroom and feel like you could go again right away? If you’re rushing through things, it’s possible you don’t completely empty your bladder. It can also put unnecessary pressure on your pelvic floor.
Try these techniques to have a better bathroom experience:
- Always take your time to make sure you completely empty your bladder
- Sit down and relax – don’t hover
- Keep your legs apart. This helps everything align so the bladder and urethra can work properly.
- Do not push or “bear down.” Pushing out your pee can cause your pelvic floor muscles to weaken over time. Gravity is already working against you!
- Pull all your clothing down past your knees to help all your lady parts relax.
- Try double voiding. After you’re done, stand up and then sit back down on the toilet and try to go again.
- Rock ’n roll: Rock back and forth, or front to back. Wiggle on the seat, bend forward, and try to pee again. Urine can get trapped in crevices in the bladder.
- Use pads especially for bladder leaks to protect against embarrassing leaks.
Learn to ride the wave
An urge may hit when you’re trying to get into your house, stressed or anxious, water is running or you just walked out into the cold. It follows a wave pattern; it starts, grows, peaks, then subsides.
Learn how to ride the wave:
- With the first urge to head to the bathroom, be still. Try to stop what you are doing. Stand still, stay seated and try to activate your pelvic floor muscles.
- Take a deep breath. Inhale and exhale through your nose. Keep your lips and mouth closed. Repeat 4 or 5 times and stay focused on your breath.
- Do a couple of quick Kegels to see if the urge passes. Distract yourself and think about or do something else.
- Try to wait a few seconds, and up to 15 minutes or longer, and see if it passes. Who knows? You might discover you made it an hour.
- If you feel pressure or like you can’t hold it, walk slowly to the bathroom while
you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. Try to breath calmly until you can sit down on
Rushing to get to the bathroom makes the bladder more likely to contract. This makes the urge stronger, leading to leaks or a full-blown accident as you try to undress.
Be patient and practice. You’ll be the master of the throne in no time!
Ready to tell your bladder who’s boss? Lily Bird has you covered. Get pads and underwear for leaky laughs and dribble dilemmas delivered right to your door.
Marla R. Miller is a professional writer and pelvic health educator who understands of the frustrations of having an overactive bladder.