On the fear of pissing your pants.

This is a very real fear, that a lot of people have, sometimes unconsciously. I laugh about it, because to be honest, I find anything remotely related to ablutions to be funny. Don’t get me wrong, as someone who has suffered – quote ‘emergency room level constipation’ before, I’m not trying to poke fun at this fear.

When I was 13 years old, the night before the year 8 social, I wet the bed. The night before the event where I was so sure I was going to finally ‘get some’ (I didn’t, by the way), I wet the goddamn bed. I could not believe it. I had never been a bedwetter. I distinctly remember running into my parent’s room, shaking my mother awake to tell her that ‘something had happened’. I honestly thought something else had happened to me, because how could a teenager lose control like that? I wasn’t a little kid after all. Right?

Now, 15 years later, I work with women in a post natal yoga setting, where we spend a significant amount of time talking about wetting your pants when you sneeze/cough/laugh/cry. When you become pregnant and give birth, the pelvic floor cops an enormous amount of pressure (even if you deliver via c-section). In those early days, it’s not uncommon to wet your pants without realising, and many women require physiotherapy following birth to help rebuild these muscles. It can be a really debilitating experience for some women, but it is also normal.

Occasionally, I teach prenatal yoga. Time and time again I meet women who come to yoga during pregnancy in order to strengthen their pelvic floor in preparation for birth. Perhaps they have already had one or two babies, and feel that they aren’t as strong as they were with their first birth. Whatever the reason, there seems to be a concern that they are not already strong enough.

What I’ve come to wonder is, what do they fear? Why do they need to be strong? As we recline in restorative positions, we work through relaxation techniques to soften and let go, to search out tension in the body, and aim to identify where we are holding. I use these same techniques when I lie in bed at night. Sometimes it’s hard to identify tension, but more often than not, I think “Oh my god. If I let go anymore I might wet myself.” And then what. What is the worst thing that could happen.

Today I went through this with my students. Soften the pelvis. Relax the hips. Release the muscles of your pelvic floor, create space. And hey, guess what. If you are worried you might wet yourself, we’re lying on rubber mats. It’s just wee. What is actually the worst that could happen? Maybe you’ll fart. So what, we’ll probably all giggle together. Or more likely, not even notice. Perhaps you’ll cry. Also ok. We spend so much time in our everyday lives (pregnant or not, male or female), keeping it all together. Holding it all in, in case we fall apart.

So if we fall apart, then what happens? Eventually, we start putting ourselves back together again. Maybe dry our eyes. Apologise for yelling at our loved ones. Perhaps enjoy a sigh of relief. And change your pants if you need to. It’s just wee after all.

 

This blog post was originally published on my old blog, which you can trawl through here.