It’s nothing to be ashamed of—but we also shouldn’t normalize it. Luckily, personal trainer and pelvic floor expert Kim Vopni says it’s totally fixable.
You know what isn’t funny? Peeing when you laugh. People joke about it, and it’s pretty common, but it isn’t actually normal, and you don’t have to live this way!
So says Kim Vopni, a BC-based pelvic floor specialist, popularly known as The Vagina Coach. We spoke to Vopni about this common but treatable condition that affects so many pregnant and postpartum women.
What’s a Vagina Coach?
I’m a personal trainer with a specialty in the pelvic floor and I advocate for a happy vagina. The name came to me at a conference while presenting to a group of female entrepreneurs who were learning from a variety of business coaches. I went up on stage and said, “Well, now you have a vagina coach for your business” and a light bulb went off. I apply fitness principles to the muscles of the pelvis to help women prepare for and recover from birth, prevent and overcome incontinence and prolapse, and be able to experience more pleasure with sex. I’m passionate about normalizing conversations around pelvic floor health and vaginas, myth-busting what has been considered “normal” suffering but is really very treatable.
Let’s talk about peeing when you sneeze, cough or laugh. Tons of moms experience this after giving birth.
When little bits of urine leak out during some form of exertion, it’s called Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). It’s very common. If muscles don’t react in time and/or with enough force to close the opening, urine will leak out. As many as 1 in 4 people will develop SUI during pregnancy and when left untreated it can result in ongoing incontinence for the person. So while it’s common, it’s not normal and can be treated.
Does leaking pee after having a baby usually go away on its own?
It can but it can also linger. However, it’s very treatable through physical therapy and coaching.
Women are more candid than ever about the postpartum experience but incontinence is something we still don’t hear tons about. Why?
Social media has led to more awareness around pelvic health, but there’s still a long way to go. Admitting you pee your pants involuntarily isn’t sexy! Pregnant and postpartum celebrities have played a role in creating awareness around things like maternal mental health and it would go a long way to have more people of influence speak up about pelvic health. The more we talk about the physical challenges women face, the safer it becomes to ask for help for issues like incontinence.
Are there things moms can do at home to help with this problem without professional help?
Yes! Starting pelvic floor exercises early is hugely beneficial. Evidence proves that kegels strengthen the pelvic floor muscles when done correctly and consistently. Apps like the Buff Muff offer at-home exercises and resources. I take it a step further and coordinate pelvic floor activation into restorative exercises like bridges, clams and deadbugs.
Can pregnant people do anything to prevent this problem in the first place?
This is the main reason I started my business back in 2004. After the birth of my first son, I realized that there is a missed opportunity to educate about pelvic health in pregnancy and early postpartum. I designed a birth preparation program called Prepare to Push with this goal in mind.
The challenge, though, is that people are more motivated to fix a problem that already exists than they are to take steps to prevent it from happening in the first place. Social media is slowly helping to change that, but after 17 years of preaching this stuff, I still hear, “Why didn’t anyone tell me about this before I gave birth?” Really, we should be learning about kegels and strengthening our pelvic floor when we learn about menstruating and sex education.
The title “Vagina Coach” must get some interesting reactions.
I think the funniest was from one of my kids. My boys have grown up with vulva paraphernalia and pelvis models all over the house. But when they started using social media, I was following their profiles, and their friends would see that someone named @vaginacoach had liked a post and would tease them. My oldest came to me one day and said, “Can’t you just change your name to Boob Coach or something?”
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