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INCONTINENCE DURING PREGNANCY


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Many women are aware that pregnancy can cause urinary incontinence, even on a temporary basis, but one in four women experience faecal incontinence. Although only fourteen percent of women report any symptoms. 



What Is Faecal Incontinence?

Faecal incontinence is the term used whenever the rectum releases the contents of the bowel without the patient wanting this to happen. The contents may be stool, or gas. It is the most debilitating form of incontinence, and it’s the most common reason for an elderly person to move into a supervised care home. 

How Many Women Experience Faecal Incontinence During Pregnancy?

This may be that people are embarrassed to report their symptoms, or it may mean the symptoms themselves are mild. Some people who experience mild symptoms of faecal incontinence may prefer to cope using continence care products from reputable suppliers, and gaining advice and insight from their websites. HARTMANN Direct has a number of resources that you may find helpful, although, it is still recommended that you do consult with your doctor or health-care provider. 

Causes
Most often pregnancy related fecal incontinence is due to some form of damage to the anal sphincter muscles. These are the muscles that control the bowel. There are two types of anal sphincter muscle - internal and external. The internal muscle is tight even when relaxed, because this is what prevents stool and gas from escaping. The external muscle is a large muscle that is wrapped around the internal sphincter. You have conscious control over this muscle and can make it contract and relax on command. These muscles can become damaged during childbirth, either by the type of delivery, or due to multiple deliveries. Essentially, the more often you give birth, the higher your risk of faecal incontinence. 

How To Deal With Faecal Incontinence
People with faecal incontinence can exhibit constipation, or diarrhoea. How faecal incontinence is treated does dependent somewhat on the symptoms.

Medications

There are a number of medications that can have give some relief to people with faecal incontinence. If one of the symptoms is diarrhoea, then a doctor may prescribe an anti-diarrhoeal medication. If one of the symptoms is constipation, then a doctor may prescribe a laxative. Generally speaking, these are given orally, but in some cases, and injectable bulking agent is injected into the anal canal. These medications are not suitable for everyone, and while some remedies are available over the counter, it’s is never a good idea to begin a treatment regime without consulting your doctor or healthcare professional. 

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic floor exercises are often used in the management of urinary incontinence, but they can also be useful in managing faecal incontinence. The pelvic floor muscles play an integral part in helping prevent incontinence accidents. You should perform these exercises regularly throughout the day.

Diet
Some people with faecal incontinence have found that changing their diet can have a huge impact on their ability to manage their condition. Drinking plenty of water, ensuring that there’s enough fibre in your diet, and reducing your caffeine intake can all help manage incontinence. 

Skin Care
Skin care around the anus won’t help treat the faecal incontinence but it will ease the discomfort. Wash the area after every faecal movement with warm water. Make sure that you have dried it thoroughly, and you may want to apply a powder or cream barrier to help prevent further irritation. 

Products
Using incontinence pads can help some people cope with having faecal incontinence. Make sure you use a pad that is the right size, as ill fitting products can leak, or irritate the skin. You’ll also need to make sure that the incontinence pad is capable of handling your regular level of incontinence. 

Bowel Training
Similar to bladder training, bowel training means that you create a schedule, and use it to empty your bowel. This schedule can mean that you have greater control over your bowel after you have emptied it. 

Surgery

Some women who experience faecal incontinence due to injuries or damage sustained in childbirth may need surgery to correct the problem. The type of surgery will depend on the damage. In some cases, a damaged sphincter can be repaired, in others it may need to be replaced. If other treatments have not worked, then the doctors may have to consider diverting the bowel through an opening in the abdomen instead, where the patient would affix an external appliance to collect the stool. This type of surgery is a colostomy, and is really only used when all other treatment options have failed. 



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