Have you heard of bladder training? I never thought it exists, but it does.
When I was a kid my mom always told me to pee before we leave. And every time we got to the grocery store, I had to pee. I don't know if it was just the excitement and curiosity of getting to go up the stairs in the store all by myself or was I just trigger or trained to need to pee when I got to the store.
Well, it turns out, I may have trained my bladder to need to pee at the store. I know, I never heard of bladder training. But it turns out you actually can train your bladder. If you have to go frequently or urgently it could be a result of "bad" bladder training. But don't fret, you can retrain your bladder putting you in control, rather than your bladder controlling you and your life.
You probably trained your bladder over the years, so retraining will not happen overnight. Most people see progress within 2 weeks.
How does bladder training work?
- Start with a urinary diary. Just keep track of how often you go. If it's more frequently than 2-3 hours, you need to try to increase that time.
- However often you go, hold it for 15 minutes longer. If you feel like you need to go before the 15 minutes do NOT rush to the toilet. Take a moment and sit, relax your body and take slow deep breaths. The urge wave will pass. If you run to the bathroom at the peak of the urge wave, you'll make things worse and harder to control.
- The best time to pee is after the urge when you are calm.
- If you can hold for your target time for 3 to 4 days in a row, then you are ready to increase the time. It's ideal to go every 2-3 hours.
- Try to cut down on the "just in case" trips to the toilet. One trick I've been trying is holding it until I'm about to leave the house. That way I don't pee and then 20 minutes later pee again before leaving.
What about urgency?
- Remember to let the wave of urge pass by sitting, relaxing and breathing.
- Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles quickly 3-5x. Repeat as needed and repeat when you stand up after the urge passes.
- Try a distraction technique. Count backward from 100 or engage in some other mental activity. Anything that requires your focus is great.
- Cross your legs or apply firm pressure to your perineum (crotch). This will send a message to your bladder that the exit is closed.
- Change your position.
- Stay still. You won't be able to hold your bladder and run to the toilet at the same time.
- Don't jiggle around. Movement makes it worse.
Foods and Liquids
Drink your normal amount of fluids but not all at once. I like to suggest only 4 oz of water per 1/2 hour to stay hydrated and allow your cells to absorb the fluids without filling your bladder too quickly. And stop drinking 2 hours before bed. This will help with nighttime urination.
There are some foods that can irritate your bladder. Here is a list. Everyone is different so you'll need to figure out which are your trigger foods and avoid them.
- apples and apple juice
- carbonated beverages
- spicy foods
- citrus fruits
- coffee, even decaf
- cranberries and cranberry juice
- dairy products like milk and cheese
- sugar in any form, especially artificial
- tea, even herbal
- tomatoes and tomato juice
- vitamin B complex
If you try all of this and it's still not working, then please go see your doctor. Another option is having pelvic floor rehab. It's standard for women who have given birth in Europe but many don't even know what it is here in the US. There are also some new options with acupuncture that may be covered by insurance. So if your bladder is irritating you, get try retraining it.
If you need help with any of this, I'm here to support and guide you. Have a great week. Donna