What and Why?
You are born already able to save up your urine for hours at a time until a reflex is tripped and your bladder empties itself completely. As a baby you do not control this and may not even notice, but from quite young your emptying reflex can be trained to respond to promptings other than bladder fullness. However between two and three you make the nervous connections which enable you to over-ride the reflex consciously. By stages you become aware that you are wet, then that you are wetting, and finally that you want to go.
By then you are in control when you are awake; dryness at night follows a little later, usually with only a little encouragement and no special training. Any fault in your bladder can interfere with this, especially if it makes you more susceptible to urine infections. This is unusual; your doctor will check you for infection from time to time, but even that is unlikely if your urine does not smell strongly. If you have ever had a single dry night or reasonable daytime control and your urine is not infected your apparatus is basically sound.
So the problem lies in learning to control it. This is often more difficult for a child who has at a younger age been conditioned to wee to order. He often appears to relapse into wetting for a few weeks or months while he gets his conscious control mechanism together. It can take a lot of patience to wait for the function to return.
Otherwise a serious upset of any kind during that crucial third year may be enough to distract you and spoil your progress. Admission to hospital, separation from mother while a new baby is born or moving your home are typical examples. Generally poor health that persists for months at a time should be avoidable but may continue undermining your alertness until a fundamental cause is corrected — allergy or depression for example. You may lapse back into wetting or never really learn. Either way, gaining control is harder once that third birthday is long past.
By then you are choosing other things to learn and always succeeding. Bed-wetting is probably your only failure and it nags at your pride. You become ashamed of yourself, feel hopeless and begin to evade the issue. That only confirms the problem, since by now you need to concentrate your effort to overcome it.
What can I do?
Advice to maintain and maximise health
1. If you are very small the effect on your parents when you won’t wee in the pot can give you a great sense of power. Shrewd parents spot this and lose interest in your failure. Their positive pleasure when you succeed is ample compensation.
2. You should not be rewarded for dry nights nor punished or threatened for wetting your bed; but it should be a perfect nuisance to you. You must get up, bathe, change your pyjamas and your bed and get back in it with little or no help from your parents. You should help do the washing you cause. All this concentrates your mind without making you anxious.
3. Drink lots during mornings at home; when your bladder fills practice holding on. Drink only water (bottled or filtered) after lunchtime. By evening your urine will be less and stronger. Get a grown-up to take you to the toilet at their bedtime; you needn’t even wake up.
4. Draw yourself a calendar for each month with five columns of seven rows each. Make each box big enough for you to draw a face inside it. Each morning draw one for last night, smiling in red if your bed was dry and sad in yellow if not. Add up the smiling faces in each weekly column, then for the whole month, and watch your progress. Do you seem to wet on the same nights each week: if so, why? Show your doctor or health visitor these calendars every month.
5. Get checked for allergy using exclusion diets. Avoid colourings in sweets, squashes, tinned peas and fish fingers anyway; perfectly good brands are available without these unnecessary irritants. Stop using fluoridated toothpaste to clean your teeth; you probably swallow it. Improve your diet with help for your appetite if necessary.
6. If your success does not quickly make you keen and hopeful take Dr Bach’s Gorse Flower Remedy. Clematis suits dreamy uninterested people, Wild Rose helps if you have just given up the effort to improve. Chestnut Bud deals best with slow learners. Someone locally may prescribe them or you can write directly (details on Bach flower page).
7. Several Homoeopathic remedies may help you. Belladonna 3 taken 4-hourly is appropriate if you sleep heavily. Sepia 6 8-hourly fits better if you are wet early in the night. If these do not work there are many other possibilities; consult a reputable practitioner for further help.
8. If none of this helps and you sleep very heavily take your calendar cards back to your doctor and ask for medicine for a few months; but keep everything else going too!
9. Persevere. Late learning takes six months at least before you are reasonably safe; you may still have accidents on holiday or under stress for many months longer. Everybody manages eventually.