Pee-Free Double Unders with a Water Birth?

If you’ve been in the gym scene long enough, are a mother, or are expecting a child, you know that jump-rope induced peeing (stress urinary incontinence or sui) is for real. SUI results from the combination of biomechanical changes with a weakening of the pelvic floor from labor that comprise a woman’s core. In a simple analogy, the pelvic floor becomes a saggy trampoline that leaks when you jump on it. Not exactly the most scientific analogy but it gets the point across.

This means that many women won’t be able to control their bladder with impact. It’s hard enough on the psyche to scale back during pregnancy, but the thought of never being able to do double-unders or running again is overwhelming. Thankfully women and coaches aren’t as powerless as they may feel nor should this be accepted as normal. In fact, lowering the risk of incontinence is a lot like fixing any other dysfunctional movement to build PRs. It takes patient persistence and a smart approach to train for the big event. And YES, labor is indeed an incredibly athletic event.

Like any other event, a strong strategy can give a performance edge to our fit mommas. One such strategy is water immersion. There are variations of this method; it can be a complete birth under water or immersion during the first stage of labor. Regardless, research suggests that water immersion birth may decrease the chances of incontinence by 400%! It doesn’t just end there either. Water immersion practices reduces the length of the first stage of labor, the use of epidurals, and cuts c-section rates by more than half!! If we consider labor as the athletic event it is, then this method may be the “steroids” of birth. Just don’t call the women Barry or Mark!

While there are always limitations to any technique or strategy, having an option and a recommendation gives women power. Knowing they have non-conventional options out there helps them practice their power to medical team that will help them create THEIR ideal birth scenario. Plus the power to not tinkle yourself is one every adult should cherish!

Here’s a brief summary of how to reduce pregnancy-related urinary incontinence:

  • Perinatal:
    • Establish a strong, mobile “Core Canister”  of proper breathing and bracing
    • Modify training to match core status (may necessitate a reduction in impact
    • Replace movements that result in spinal motions (i.e., flexion movements)
  • Labor: Water Immersion
  • Post-natal:
    • Re-establish the “Core Canister” by starting to breathe and brace days after birth.
    • Take 6 weeks to rest, heal, and recover.
    • Slowly progress back into exercise by matching 3rd trimester performance as the first goal (this might take up to a year depending on the pregnancy)
    • Do not perform sit-ups, crunches, toes to bar, knees to elbows, or planks until linea alba is firm and there is no doming with movements.



A comparison of maternal and neonatal outcomes between water immersion during labor and conventional labor and delivery

The effect of water immersion delivery on the strength of pelvic floor muscle and pelvic floor disorders during postpartum period: An experimental study.