Bladder leaks – speak up! Don’t suffer in silence.

Next week is Continence Awareness Week (from 15-21 June).

So I thought it would be a good time to share my story in the hope that we can get more people talking about bladder leaks in a more open and accepting manner.

Now I have two amazing children, who I love and adore. But they both came out ginormous! I am not kidding – they came out looking like toddlers! It was not ok. And as a result, my pelvic floor muscles were demolished!

For years I didn’t tell anyone about my bladder leak problem. Well, I mentioned it to my doctor every once and awhile, but I was told it was just normal.

One day I experienced a super embarrassing underwear leakage moment during a team building work rugby match. My pride took a big hit that day and so did my desire to ever exercise again.

So, I went back to my doctor and said that something needed to be done! I felt humiliated and at my wits end. Finally, I was referred to a specialist to get the mesh sling surgery. I was so excited. I thought it would fix everything instantly. But alas, my surgery ended up being postponed three times. And since the recovery time is 6 weeks off work – it was a logistical nightmare to manage the continual delays. I thought that maybe the universe was trying to tell me something. Consequently, I took myself off the waiting list and I continue to thank my lucky stars because I have heard so many bad stories about the sling surgery.

I now manage my bladder leaks in six key ways:

  1. With pelvic floor exercises. Where I’m currently focused on establishing a system to remember to do them.
  2. Bladder re-training, which I must say, also requires mental re-training because the concept of ‘go wees – just in case’ has been hard-wired into my brain since I was a child.
  3. I exercise early in the day before I have had anything to drink.
  4. I wear re-usable/washable leakproof underwear/pads/liners.
  5. I replace known trigger bootcamp exercises, such as star jumps, skipping and jumping jacks, with other exercises like froggy squats, reverse lunges, or an ab workout.
  6. Lastly, but most importantly, I am a lot more open with friends, family and even new acquaintances about my bladder leak problems.

Because realising how common it was – made me want to reduce the shame and stigma surrounding it. When you think about it because incontinence affects 1:3 women and 1:10 men, it’s really quite common. Yet, still we are embarrassed to talk about it. It’s not fair.

I thought that I could help a little by setting up a confidential facebook community group. Where members are encouraged to share their story and feel normal amongst their peers.

If this sounds like a group that you could benefit from – please join us today!

Incontinence │ light bladder leakage – tips, support and shared stories

Why talking about your bladder leakage problems can be beneficial

Humans aren’t perfect. We all have faults. I have a million!

Many of us have medical conditions and incontinence is just another medical condition. Unfortunately the word ‘incontinence’ has negative perceptions surrounding it, so I’ll ease us all in with a more user friendly term – bladder leakage.

I experience bladder leakage. Especially when I run, laugh uncontrollably, or sneeze. It’s embarrassing and I feel shame when I think about how I may be perceived.

For many years I did not tell my husband about my bladder leakage. But I can now tell you from experience that trying to keep it a secret is far more stressful than just getting it out in the open. If you have someone close to you and are scared to tell them about your bladder leaks, I strongly encourage you to tell them today!   

Why you ask? Here are three key reasons:

  1. I know it’s a cliché but talking about our feelings can really help. Yes, its true – and backed up by extensive research too. Talking through your experiences and putting your feelings into words has a positive impact on both your brain and your body.

    Because when you keep your feelings bottled up, this can then cause issues to escalate in other areas, for example, in your relationship.

    Furthermore, holding in the negative thoughts, anxiety and emotions can make you more susceptible to getting sick or feeling out of sorts.

    On top of that – holding in negative thoughts (especially ones targeted at yourself) can take your precious mind space away from more creative positive thoughts and energy.

    So be mindful of your internal negative thoughts. And to stop them before they take hold. 

Don’t forget – you get to choose how you feel about yourself.  

  1. It’s not just about helping you – it’s about helping the millions of other people who suffer from incontinence and are too ashamed to tell a soul. Sharing what you are dealing with in daily life can help you and others with the same struggles to realise that you are not alone, and what may feel overwhelming, is pretty standard for many people.

Remember one in three women and
one in ten men experience incontinence.
We are not alone. In fact – it’s really quite common!

  1. Lastly, sharing your bladder leakage problems with your partner, a trusted friend, a continence nurse, or a physio – can help you map out an improvement plan. This could present itself in many ways. It may be your physio suggesting medical options that will work, or it could be a friend giving you great tips on how to remember your pelvic floor exercises, or it may result in having your partner being more understanding about your needs e.g. why you want to do physical activities with the family first thing in the morning before you have too much liquid in your bladder.  

I admit – it can feel embarrassing and uncomfortable the first few times you share, but the more times you open up, the easier it will become. Try it today!

The do’s and don’ts – of dealing bladder leakage

Do seek medical helpIf you haven’t sought help – put this as a priority. Go to the doctor, your local continence nurse, or a physio.  
 2Do your pelvic floor exercisesStart today! Squeeze and draw-in the muscles around your bottom hole and your girly-parts at the same time. Lift them UP inside – all the way. Hold them strong and tight for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 10 times (3 times a day).
 3Keep active and strengthen your coreSome activities are better than others. Yoga and pilates are two activities that are great for strengthening your core and they have the added benefit of incorporating mindfulness and relaxation. This is partially helpful – as incontinence is often connected with anxiety and depression.
 4Minimize bladder irritantsUnfortunately, caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, and spicy/acidic foods can irritate the bladder and make leaks worse. If you find this to be a hard one to change – YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Don’t strain with number 2’sTry to keep your bowel movements regular, because being constipated or straining while going number 2’s can overstretch your pelvic floor muscles and make urinary incontinence worse.
 6Avoid liftingLifting strains your pelvic floor muscles – so avoid it whenever you can.
Not such a bad thing. Ask for help!
 7Re-train your bladderOften your bladder is only 60% full when you get the urge to go pee.
Train your bladder to hold more urine without leaking by delaying your pee past the point of your urge to go. First try to delay by five minutes. Then aim to build up to twenty minutes or more. While you wait – take a few deep breaths and do a few pelvic floor exercises.
 8Wear something that won’t limit your activitiesReusable pads or leakproof underwear provide helpful backup support for you to rely on while you are working on the options above.  
 9Surgical treatmentSurgical treatment may be required for more acute cases of pelvic floor or prolapse. The operation involves inserting a synthetic mesh implant (aka a ‘sling’). But this comes with many mixed reviews. Up to 50% of US women are affected by pelvic floor prolapse – and of those who decide to have surgery – up to 30% may require re-operation to fix it.
 10Nonsurgical treatmentA number of internal and external treatments are available, including kegal toners e.g. muscle stimulators and kegel balls, laser therapy, and vaginal pessaries (removable prosthetic devise).

Step 1 – in my entrepreneurial journey towards the world of ecommerce

It’s exciting and a feel silly for jiggling in my seat, but I’m also grinning with pride, because I have hit two key milestones this month.

Now I’ve got to say – there have been roadblocks. Home schooling during Covid19 lockdown for one! I have now walked around the block and played Monopoly Deal more times than I can count. Because my kids have a clear limit of patience and focus when it comes to schoolwork.  

And while I have felt pulled in many directions and have had to jump from one task to another in rapid succession, I am still moving forward. Mmmm, maybe I deserve a glass of wine!

Wine aside, the first milestone I hit was coming up with my brand name. I didn’t think coming up with a brand name would be that hard. But it was the HARDEST! Note to self – if this ever happens again – ask less people for their advice. Because everyone has a different opinion!!

The worst enemy to creatively is self-doubt.

Sylvia Plath

I reached milestone number two when I finally choose the selection of fabrics that I’m happy with to progress to the next stage (prototype development). I have now tested hundreds of fabric samples. Not only have I undertaken all the scientific tests but I also borrowed a friends sewing machine and made some very rough prototypes to exercise in. Because that is the ultimate test! Running without leakage, especially after a day of drinking tea. I was so disappointed when the first few didn’t work. My bottom lip was out and I was not happy. But it didn’t take many mishaps to realise where I was going wrong. On the plus side – I have also somewhat improved my sewing machine skills, which – if I’m being honest – were absolutely terrible. But when I finally found the right fabric layers – I was surprised my neighbours didn’t hear my huge sigh of relief!

It’s early days yet and I know I have a long road ahead. But it feels rewarding to be stepping over the hurdles just the same.

Remove internal self-doubt

One of the biggest hurdles that people often face is internal negative thoughts. This may be because a mistake has been made at work, or someone has said something unkind, or the perceived required task is too hard – the list goes on…

Nothing is gained by beating yourself up internally.

The trick is to acknowledge your concern or problem – and learn from it – and then make the conscious decision to move on from it the next morning.

Step 1: go for a run or walk and clearly articulate the problem that is causing the self-doubt.

Step 2: identify the impact (external to you) and consider if you can learn anything from it.

Step 3: own your mistake. People will respect you more when you acknowledge that you have made a mistake. This can be as simple as “Whoopsie, my bad! I certainly won’t be doing that again!” or the more formal “That was totally my mistake, note to self, don’t do that again next time.” Nobody is expected to be perfect and we continue to learn until the day we die. So, its ok to let others know that you too can improve yourself.   

Step 4: consider if others will think about it anymore than you have. Noting that when it comes down to it – nobody has spare time in their life to consider the mini-mishaps of others for very long.

Step 5: do not to dwell! The key tip here – is to be continually mindful of your internal negative thoughts. Stop them before they take hold.

Step 6: if required, rectify the concern or problem with an action. But do this swiftly and then stop thinking about it. Because otherwise it is a waste of your energy and it uses up positive productive mind space.

How I started my entrepreneurial journey

Starting a new business venture is exhilarating! It brings out my creative side and makes me feel like I’m doing something with my life that adds value. With it – also comes self-doubt. Because its hard to know if you are making the right decisions.

I have asked myself many times if this is the right thing to do. Yet, in saying that – I don’t like to waste too much time on self-doubt because it takes my mind away from other more productive thoughts. Instead, I acknowledge the thought (when i have it) and remind myself of my three key reasons for doing it and then I swiftly move on.

Now – before I get into my recap on the key activities I’ve done in starting my entrepreneurial journey.  I must first tell you that I have never owned a business before, and I have no experience in designing a product. What I do have – is lots of motivation, dedication, and passion. I realise that – that alone is not enough. I will make mistakes (and I already have). My aim is to learn from my mistakes and not spend too much money on them. It helps that with Covid19 lockdown we have no money coming in – so it’s hard to spend when you have none to spare! All my knowledge is coming from either podcasts, google or the Creative HQ Incubator Program. Which is a tad restricted by the fact that the country went into lock-down one week before I was meant to start and we are still in lock-down.

That aside, I’ve still been able to find time to work on four key focus areas. The boxes shown below identify the key tasks that I have done. Some further insights are covered in more detail below that.


Guiding documents


Market research


Prototype prep


Online presence

1 Business Plan

2 Project task register

3 Marketing strategy

4 Forecast financials

5 Brand Framework

1 Online surveys

2 Competitor research

3 Problem and solutions review, incl: scientific journals, online research and chats to specialists

1 Sample materials purchased

2 Fabric tests performed

3 Potential suppliers identified

4 Pattern maker selected

Personal website: tamsinsomerville.com

Started a blog:
enablepositivechange.com

Guiding documents

I started my journey by developing a business plan. I used the template from the NZ central government business support agency. It gets you to cover everything from your timeline and market analysis through to supply chain, product creation and financial strategy. This document has been invaluable in making me think through the multiple elements required and I think it is an essential starting point for any new business.

I use Excel for my project task register. Every time I think – “owww, that’s something I should do”, I add it to my register. Its currently list over 100 tasks that I need to do under key themes. This is guided by goals that I have set myself to achieve over the next 1, 2, 3, 6 and 12 months.

With my marketing strategy I first started quite detailed but then I simplified it into a one A3 page that simply sets out my goals, approach, marketing pillars, product niches, and key messages. It is super helpful!

My brand development framework starts off with elements that I will retain throughout my business journey, such as outcomes, goals, vision, values, strengths, insights, and desired brand experience. But then it moves into elements that I will change over time once my branding is finalised, including words that describe the brand, brand name ideas, logo ideas, as well as colors and fonts I like.

Market research

I used Survey Monkey to test the market viability of my product. I avoided friends and family because I needed the results to be honest. I sent out about a hundred emails and received 40 responses. The results were clear – progress forward!

My second survey tested my six possible brand name ideas and the associated tag lines. The results were not overly clear. Everyone thought differently. The best advice I received was by reading a book called Hello my name is … Awesome.

Prototype development

Arguably my hardest task to date. I have ordered and tested more fabric samples than I care to admit. This has been my biggest expense to date, and I have now learned the importance of asking more questions prior to excitedly ordering the fabric of my dreams. Finding the right fabrics is so much harder than I thought it would be. Especially finding sustainable fabrics that will work.  Note to self – when designing my next product – hire a professional!

Online presence

I developed a personal website because I thought it was important that if people wanted to learn about me, they would be able to. I paid US$50 for a domain name and website hosting for a year. This included an easy website template, which had me up and running in a morning.  

I developed my blog so that I could share the reasons of why I was on my entrepreneurial journey and share some tips along the way.

My next website development, will be my online retail store. This will not be so easy or cheap. Eek! I’ll keep you posted.

The key to staying positive and motivated

When starting a new business, it’s hard to stop paid work and watch your bank balance hit rock bottom. It’s hard to do tasks that you have no idea about how to do. People close to you sometimes come across as negative when they think they have your best interests at heart.

Even without starting a new business, life has a way of throwing you roadblocks and challenges.

The trick is to face them, acknowledge them, and actively do something to move past them.

I remain positive and motivated by being diligent in doing the following four things:

Planning and trying my best to achieve my goals – so this means that I not only have I written down key goals that I want to achieve in my business over the next 2-3 years, but I also have a project task register that covers all the essential tasks I need to do to launch my online company, plus I have a daily to-do list (which is often just three things that I’ve jotted down on a post-it note at the end of each day). I find that having a plan of action keeps me motivated and less free to think negatively.

Removing internal self-doubt: one of the biggest hurdles that people often face is internal negative thoughts. This may be because a mistake has been made at work or something bad was said or the perceived task is too hard – the list goes on. Nothing is gained by beating yourself up internally. The trick is to acknowledge your issue or problem – learn from it – and then make the conscious decision to move on from it the next morning. That means – DO NOT DWELL! Sometimes you may need to rectify the issue or problem with an action. But do this swiftly and then stop thinking about it. Because otherwise it’s a waste of your energy and it uses up positive productive mind space.

Moving past roadblocks – when I face a roadblock I either steadily work through it piece by piece (because you can learn anything on the internet these days). Or if it’s not time sensitive, then I set it aside and focus on every other task – with the knowledge that I ‘ll come back to it when I have more information or I’m in the right frame of mind.

Making positive change: If you are unhappy then change something in your life. Don’t wait for circumstance or others to change your life for you. Make yourself responsible for your own happiness. For me this meant starting a new online retail business, because I’m passionate about the product. I also very regularly note how grateful and thankful I am for many things in my life. It doesn’t matter how I say it but just that I am saying it out loud. For example, I will constantly tell my children how thankful I am that they are mine and why I’m so happy to have them. Yesterday I found the positive about my husband missing out of a job he really wanted – which made us both much happier.

Life essentials – steering me towards entrepreneurial success

It’s been eight weeks since I started my entrepreneurial journey towards developing an online business selling leakproof underwear for pee, periods and perspiration.

I found it quite easy to stick to a healthy routine for the first five weeks, but since then I begun to slacken off. I’m hoping that by writing this post and becoming more aware of my naughtiness, that I will start to do better.

Below is my list of five essential healthy habits that I’m trying to stick to. The checkbox identifies how well I’m going.

Sleep – the no-brainer! Go to bed and wake up at a similar time each day and allow for some quiet wind-down time before bed. Not only is this great for my mood and focus but its also great for my skin. My current problem is waking during the night. If I wake then I focus on my breathing and try to clear my mind. If that doesn’t work then I read a book on my dimly lit phone with the black back light. I realize that this is probably not good. But it does take my mind off everything else and put me back to sleep swiftly. But I’m sure that listening to a meditation podcast would be better. Might have to try that.

Water – drink a full glass of water with lemon or lime first thing each morning. Then grab a 1L bottle of water and I make sure that I get through this, and then some, each day. Initially I was trying to aim for 2L but that was impossible with my weak bladder.

 3Exercise – I like to exercise as soon as I wake up, but if that’s not your best time – then find a time that works for you and program it into your day. I find that if I look at my phone when I first wake up then I am more likely to skip exercise. NAUGHTY! But if I get up and put my activewear on straight away – then I’m good to go! The question is – how best to stick to this? Because I started off great and now, well – I’m just ok. Starting NOW – I’m going to make a goal (not too ambitious) and stick to it.

 4Stretches – for me this involves stretches for a frozen shoulder, a stiff neck and pelvic floor exercises (gosh I sound old!). I’m not sure why I’m so bad at this – but while initially I started off doing this daily and I felt great too – now I’m lucky if I do it once every three weeks. I need to do better! Much better!
I know that I’m pretty good at doing them if I remember. So, starting NOW – I’m going to set a daily reminder alarm to get me back on track.



 5Staying positive and motivated – remaining positive through problems and roadblocks is very difficult – but absolutely essential! I’ve been able to do by being diligent with four things. But that is way too much information for this one blog post – so if you are keen to read more go to: The key to staying positive and motivated.

Remember – happiness is contagious!


My passion project

It was 22 January 2020, when I chose to tell my husband that I’m taking a year off from full time paid employment to work on my passion project – and that he would have to go back to work. My profession at the time was consulting/contracting for government agencies, primarily in policy and strategy development. I was paid well and I enjoyed it, but when I thought about what I’d do if money wasn’t an issue/requirement then I knew it wasn’t that.

So when I had my lightbulb moment (see previous blog story) I thought to myself – there is never going to be a better time to make a change. It was on that day when I registered my new company, with the intention of developing leak-proof underwear for pee, periods and perspiration. I was beyond excited!

I knew deep down it was the right decision. But self-doubt plagued me. It was very hard saying “no thank you” to the first few policy contract roles that were presented to me. And even after a month, when my husband still had no job, I was tempted to accept yet another short-term role. But I knew if I did this then I would lose momentum.

My husband and I had agreed that I could spend our savings, we would scrap the planned holiday, and there would be no more take-out or meal kit delivery. 😦 Plus we would need to take out a loan against the house for my first product shipment. This was my chance and while the since the family was being impacted I knew that I needed to have faith in my ability to deliver.

I started with a business plan, and then a brand strategy, a marketing strategy and a project task register. After that my primary goal was to develop a minimum viable product. However, textile manufacturers are not that common in New Zealand anymore. Not to mention, no one sold the fabric that I wanted. So while I waited (rather impatiently) for fabric samples to come from abroad I focused on everything else, such as pattern making, label requirements, packaging, and learning about online sales and marketing.

It is fair to say – that since I had never developed a product before, let alone sold anything online, I had a lot to learn.

With more time available each morning (because i was not rushing off to town on the train) I would walk/run and listen to podcasts. My husband turned the garden shed into an office for me and I would work all day out there. I was so excited to start each day. Then at night-time, when I would normally enjoy watching a light-hearted tv drama series, I found that I could no longer pay attention to them. I wanted to be thinking about my business or watching Startup School videos instead. My mind, which had previously been completely exhausted from working a solid 40hrs each week was now alive and in overdrive. This was a bit of a revelation to me. It was like a creative driven entrepreneurial energiser bunny was just desperate to be free. Who knew!

The exciting part is that its more than just making and selling a product. I am passionate about the subject of light bladder leakage because it has negatively impacted me for the past 12 years. I wanted to try and make a difference to somehow empower women to feel more confident in living their best life without limitations. I want to encourage others to share their stories and hopefully we can create a more open dialogue where we share information about the wide range of support and treatment available. Whilst also reducing some of the sensitivity around the subject.

The light-bulb moment that caused the passion project

One day I was on an overnight tramp with friends. We were sleeping in a Dept. of Conservation hut at the top of a gorgeous mountain, in a dorm room with single mattresses covered in thick durable plastic. The kids got to sleep fine after a long day of hiking, but I lay awake all night feeling uncomfortable, hot and with a mind full of thoughts. It was that night that I had a bit of a light bulb moment.

I had not been open with my girlfriends about my personal problem – and yet we are really close friends. I guess its because no one really wants to talk about bodily fluids – because that’s nasty!

But here I was, lying awake, thinking about how annoying it was that my backpack waist-strap had dug into my bladder all day during our hike and that I wish I had better pelvic floor muscles. Because not only had I leaked through the pad in my undies that day – but I was also dreading having to put another pad in the next day, as the only private place to do that was in the outdoor long-drop toilet, which was a haven for mosquitoes. 

As I lay awake that night there were three key fields of thought that just kept swirling around my head.

Firstly, I wanted to understand why I wasn’t being more open about my bladder leakage issue. I remembered some data that I’d read once that said only 1/3 of people with incontinence issues seek help. This felt wrong to me and I vowed then and there to be more open about my issues. But i thought – why not also see what I could do to foster a more open conversation about female incontinence in general.

Secondly, I was annoyed that I hadn’t been able to buy any leak-proof underwear in New Zealand prior to our overnight tramp. I had found some online providers overseas, but the cost of the product was out of my price range, particularly when I added shipping. So I decided then and there – I needed to do something about this too!

Lastly, I was annoyed with my husband. We’d had a disagreement prior to the hike and my inner self was telling me that something had to change. The thing is – I am a naturally positive and optimistic person. My husband on the other hand, is more of a realist, or a pessimist some may say. For the past 24 years that we have been together my constant level of happiness outweighed any negativity that he could bring to the table. But over the past year something had changed. I was becoming resentful and less happy.

Initially I blamed him – and that was what our disagreement was about. But then I realised – it was me that I could change. Not him. And that was the start of my much better life. And also the start of my passion project!  

My embarrassing problem

I have an embarrassing problem. My bladder leaks when I run, sneeze, or even just walk too fast. And because I love food – I need to run (ok so running is overselling it. I jog.) But also, I sneeze a LOT – if its not hayfever, then its cats, if its not cats then its dust – you get the picture right. On top of that, I grew up in a relatively big city called Melbourne and this means I like to walk fast. Slow ambling walkers often annoy me. But all this fast walking results in bladder leakage. And I haven’t even started on the days when I’m trying to be good with my water intake!!! 

It all started 12 years ago when I had my first son. He was 10lb and boy did he have man-boobs. My second son, two years later was as 12lb. He came out looking like a toddler – which was not ok. My boys are the joy of my life but my pelvic floor muscles have never been the same.

Here lies one of my biggest problems. I’m told that I should be able to fix my pelvic floor muscles. My physio told me to do the exercises. My mum sent me a brochure about a wave machine I can sit on. My friend told me about electrodes that pulse and I put them up my girly parts. My doctor suggested a surgical mesh operation. But after three postponements of the operation (because compared to others, my needs were in no way urgent) I decided that the universe was trying to tell me something, so I gave up on that.

Instead I have decided to work on my pelvic floor muscles. Here is a link to my article on the 4 steps for how to do your pelvic floor correctly.

As you may read, I understand how to do the exercises correctly – my problem is – REMEMBERING to do them! At first I tried doing them every morning and night as I brushed my teeth. But for some reason that didn’t stick.

I need to create a habit. Google tells me that it takes on average more than 2 months before a new habit becomes automatic. I guess that’s why I have still done nothing about my embarrassing problem that has plagued me for over 12 years.

I’m hoping that maybe you might be able to help. Any guidance would be great. What has worked for you to start a healthy habit?