Just in case…

This gorgeous girlie announced last week that she “not want nappies anymore” as she slung them down the stairs. (The joy of raising independent girls hey!)

You’d be forgiven for asking what this has to do with female fitness and wellbeing, but there is a serious point here.

When potty training a little one we often feel the urge to get them to try for a wee ‘just in case’ in the quest to avoid accidents…and more cleaning! And it’s a bad habit that many women (particularly postnatal ones) get into themselves.

‘Just in case wees’ sensitise the bladder and tend to result in the bladder developing a smaller capacity, which becomes a vicious cycle. That doesn’t mean I don’t ask her to try before bed, for example, but I’m resisting the temptation to put her on the potty too often so that she’s learning to tell the difference between sensation in her bladder and a full bladder – two very different things.

I’m also teaching her to sit & relax on the potty until she feels that her bladder is empty. None of this hovering/squatting business that us adults often do (particularly in public toilets) which negatively impacts on our ability to eliminate completely…and means we end up going back to the toilet far too quickly afterwards.

I’ve by no means got all of the answers. I’ll be armed with a ridiculous amount of spare clothes, Milton, wipes and a travel potty for a while yet, but I’m keen to ensure that she has good toilet habits from the start. Issues with continence are no fun…at any age!

So here are a couple of top toilet tips:

  • Aim to drink 1.2-2L of fluid a day (yes, even toddlers should be aiming for around 1.2L according to NHS guidelines! And obviously more if it’s hot or you’re exercising), with adults limiting caffeine and alcohol as they are irritants to the bladder
  • The average person will do 5-7 wees in the daytime and 0-1 at nighttime (ideally none). Any more than this suggests irritation of the bladder or too much ‘just in case’ weeing.
  • Don’t go on the first sensation, particularly if you’re at home / there’s a toilet nearby and you have options. Instead, wait for your bladder to feel full before going. (This logic doesn’t apply if you need a poo…it’s better to respond to the first urge then)
  • You should be able to go 2-3 hours between trips.
  • Stop hovering/squatting/rushing – all of these habits tend to negatively impact our toileting because they don’t allow our muscles to relax and our bladders to empty as nature intended. Instead take your time to empty your bladder fully and gently tilt your pelvis backwards and forwards if you struggle to empty properly
  • If your brain has started interfering in the process and you regularly feel the urge / panicked to go to the toilet when you didn’t really need to go that badly, come up with a tactic to distract yourself. Something like counting back from 100 in 7s can work well in focusing your brain’s attention elsewhere
  • Your pelvic floor muscles are involved in continence, so don’t neglect them! (You can find more about your pelvic floor muscles here.)
  • If you’re having any issues at all, seek help from me (as appropriate), your GP or the fabulous team at Harborne Physio.

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