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BMJ. 2002 May 25;324(7348):1241.

Promoting urinary continence in women after delivery: randomised controlled trial.

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  • 1Faculty of Health, School of Population Health Sciences, University of Newcastle, Box 24, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia.



To test the effectiveness of a physiotherapist delivered intervention designed to prevent urinary incontinence among women three months after giving birth.


Prospective randomised controlled trial with women randomised to receive the intervention (which entailed training in pelvic floor exercises and incorporated strategies to improve adherence) or usual postpartum care.


Postpartum wards of three tertiary teaching hospitals in the Hunter region, New South Wales, Australia.


Women who had forceps or ventouse deliveries or whose babies had a high birth weight (> or =4000 g), or both-676 (348 in the intervention group and 328 in the usual care group) provided endpoint data at three months.


Urinary incontinence at three months measured as a dichotomous variable. The severity of incontinence was also measured. Self report of the frequency of performance of pelvic floor exercises was recorded.


At three months after delivery, the prevalence of incontinence in the intervention group was 31.0% (108 women) and in the usual care group 38.4% (125 women); difference 7.4% (95% confidence interval 0.2% to 14.6%, P=0.044). At follow up significantly fewer women with incontinence were classified as severe in the intervention group (10.1%) v (17.0%), difference 7.0%, 1.6% to 11.8%). The proportions of women reporting doing pelvic floor exercises at adequate levels was 84% (80% to 88%) for the intervention group and 58% (52% to 63%) for the usual care group (P=0.001).


The intervention promoting urinary continence reduced the prevalence of urinary incontinence after giving birth, particularly its severity, and promoted the performance of pelvic floor exercises at adequate levels; both continence and adherence to the programme were measured at three months after delivery in women who had forceps or ventouse deliveries or babies weighing 4000 g or more.

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