What on earth is she writing about now? Bear with me and things will soon become clear. I just want to preface this with a little fact about me, I use humour a lot. I laugh a lot, but I also use it as my mask. If I’m embarrassed about something, I’ll make a joke of it. Perhaps it’s a ridiculous way to go through life, but hey, don’t judge - it’s worked well for me so far!
The Ugly Truth
So, back to the title. Deep breath. I was recently pregnant; I know what you are thinking. Jesus Christ - not another pregnancy story?! But listen, this is all I have at the minute. Anyway, there I am pregnant, not having a great time of it as I was violently ill my entire pregnancy. For anyone out there, this is very rare, so please don’t be put off pregnancy because of my less-than-ideal pregnancy. It’s not like this for most of the population. Then another little problem started to happen to me, *inhales deeply* I started to pee myself.
There is no dignified way, as a 30-year-old female, to write that and not be positively mortified. But I know I am not alone in this. Statistically, 40 -50% of women experience some form of urinary leakage (what a lovely way to put it!), or incontinence from their second and third trimester onwards and for some women, it stays like that. Often, it doesn’t need to stem from pregnancy at all, our anatomy lends itself to these “leaks” from time to time unfortunately. Ladies, this is where those Kegel exercises come in handy and speaking from experience, they work - believe me! I am even doing mine right now, and you wouldn’t even know. Stealth mode!
But when I was pregnant, I literally had next to no control over my bladder. Every time I puked, laughed, jumped, lifted anything or drank too much in a short space of time, the water works would start and don’t even get me started on coughing and sneezing! That’s when the flood gates really started opening. See, I told you, I use humour when I am embarrassed. I didn’t guarantee it would be funny humour, sometimes it can be vulgar, but like I said, it’s what gets me through the day.
Sneezing, or multiple sneezes (you know the ones, sneak up on you like a divil) and get you when you are most vulnerable. Just when you're fully dressed and leave the house - usually after a full drink of something - therefore, a full bladder and not a toilet in sight…talk about a nightmare on Elm Street!
Riding horses while having any kind of incontinence is less than ideal too, rising trot and a leaking bladder don’t exactly scream an ideal partnership. Sitting trot and a leaking bladder is completely off the table unless you came prepared for a tsunami of leakage all over your saddle and I’m not sure any of us are prepared for that.
Nappies are not just for babies
It’s hard to think of being incontinent at my age. It’s not something I thought I would have to deal with for many years. I worked for many years as a carer for the elderly, so I see adult nappies as something that happens when you come to a certain stage in life. Not once did I think I would be sharing pads and nappy stories with my elderly patients.
I’ll be honest, it was hard the first time going into Tesco’s and having to buy adult nappies because I got caught out one too many times with those sneaky sneeze sessions or the pee-inducing vomiting attacks.
But it was even harder not having anyone to talk about it with. It’s not exactly an opening remark when you meet someone for coffee…
Them: "Hey, how is the pregnancy going?"
Me: "Oh yeah, fab! Daily vomiting, pee that won’t stop and buying adult nappies in Tesco from a boy you fancied in school, is just the icing on the cake."
I would like to know why we are so embarrassed to talk about these things? If 40-50% of women have experienced it, chances are, you know someone who has experienced incontinence at some point in their pregnancy or in their life beyond pregnancy.
Female incontinence happens. I am not the first and I won’t be the last. I think reading Muireann’s article in the last edition about her alopecia, really opened my eyes to the issues that while they may be personal, we share them with so many. We are not alone. The only way we are going to feel normal and not mortified about these personal topics, is if we speak openly and honestly about them. And in turn more and more women will know how normal and ok all these things are. We are here to empower each other. We are here to support each other, that is the aim of Equitas. The community of women in Equitas don’t walk in front of each other, they don’t walk behind each other, they walk beside each other, arm in arm. We are a safe space to talk about the issues that women face in our industry and as mortifying as it is to talk about this topic for me, it needed to be done. And if we can’t buy each other nappies when we need them most, well then, I’m in the wrong tribe.
Let’s get serious, kind of.
On a more serious note, Kegel exercises are your best friends, do them everywhere and anywhere you can. A good pelvic floor exercise never did anyone any harm. Speak to a healthcare professional if you are having issues with incontinence or speak to a friend or me. My DMs are always open, and a problem shared is a problem halved. On another note, “Always discreet” are surprisingly comfortable although you would need shares in the company to keep a stash of them to hand, as they can be pricey if you have a lot of sitting trot or heavy lifting on the agenda.
I would advise investing in a long coat though ladies, my Weatherbeeta Kyla coat came in handy so many times I can’t tell you. It stops just below my knees! Did somebody say camouflage? The number of times I was caught on the hop without my nappy on, God forbid, and this weapon of a coat saved my bacon.
Working in an all-male yard doesn’t exactly help either, so, even if it was a warm day, the long coat stayed firmly on for fear of an unwanted water works display.
Thankfully for the most part, the incontinence stopped after having Sam. But not completely and you know what? It's ok. I’ll keep chipping away at my Kegel exercises. I have my little boy and if that means I had to wet myself a few more times than I care to admit, so be it! That’s motherhood. That’s me and I’m ok with that. It’s not the end of the world, it’s just a bit of wee wee.
Just, please, I beg you, if I ever meet you, please don’t make me laugh unless I have my
Weatherbeeta coat on or a nappy.
-The Ordinary Equestrian