For me, it was one of the best parts about the hours after I gave birth: That first pee in the hospital bathroom now that I no longer had a growing baby applying pressure to my bladder at every turn. (Seriously, by the 41-week mark—my now 4-year-old was a late arrival—I was hitting the restroom every 25 minutes, especially at night.)
But here’s the funny thing. After I was induced and delivered my nearly nine-pound baby boy vaginally—complete with a second-degree tear—I was sent off into the world post-evaluation of my nether regions (“Whoever stitched you up was a genius,” I remember the doctor on call exclaiming) with six weeks to pee—and recover—alone at home.
That’s when one of the most common pregnancy clichés of all time sprang to life: I kept peeing when I laughed. In fact, I’ll never forget the moment when my husband and I were giving my weeks-old baby one of his very first baths when he suddenly had explosive diarrhea in his once-adorable and now poo-covered whale-shaped tub. My husband and I were so surprised that we burst out laughing as we tried to triage the chaos. Tears streamed down my cheeks, but I also felt a dribble down my leg—gone was any form of control “down there.”
But by the six-week mark, I was feeling improvement—and by the time my maternity leave ended and I went back to work three months after delivering my son, my pelvic floor (the group of muscles that give you proper control over your bladder and bowels, but also help support the organs above) felt stronger still. Sure, I had a couple of close calls getting to the bathroom, but that was all par for the course, right? I had pushed a human out of my vagina just 12 weeks before. Recovery wasn’t going to happen overnight. Then I heard about pelvic floor therapy.