From morning sickness to back pain, there are many new symptoms that come with pregnancy. Another symptom is the seemingly never-ending urge to urinate – even if you’ve just gone a few minutes prior. Pregnancy increases your urge to urinate. This can keep you up at night, especially during your third trimester.
Increased urinary frequency is an early symptom of pregnancy in women. It’s caused by an increase of the hormones progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin. The urges tend to reduce in the second trimester. The uterus is also higher in the second trimester. This results in less pressure on your bladder.
In addition to rising hormones, your body’s fluid levels start to increase during pregnancy. This means your kidneys have to work extra hard to flush the extra fluid. The amount of urine you release will increase as well.
In the third trimester, your baby’s growing size means they’re pressing even more on your bladder. As a result, you may have to wake up several times during the night to urinate. You also may experience increased urgency to urinate due to the added pressure.
If you’re experiencing urinary frequency in pregnancy, you’ll feel the need to urinate more often. Sometimes you may go to the bathroom, but urinate very little, if at all.
Some women may also experience urinary leakage while pregnant. This leakage may occur when you:
It’s important to note that sometimes urinary frequency symptoms can indicate an underlying urinary tract infection (UTI). Women are more likely to experience UTIs during pregnancy. In addition to symptoms of urinary frequency or urgency, other UTI symptoms include:
- urine that appears cloudy
- urine that is red, pink, or concentrated
- urine that has a strong or foul smell
- a burning sensation when urinating
- pain when urinating
If you have these symptoms, tell your doctor. An untreated UTI could progress up the urinary tract and cause more serious symptoms.
Doctors can usually diagnose urinary frequency and urgency by your symptoms. Your doctor will ask how often you’re going to the restroom and how much you urinate with each trip. They may suggest keeping a journal of how often you go and how much you urinate.
Your doctor may order diagnostic tests if they’re concerned your symptoms aren’t pregnancy-related. Tests your doctor may use include:
- urinalysis: This tests the urine for infective bacteria.
- ultrasound: This test can identify any abnormalities of your bladder, kidneys, or urethra.
- bladder stress test: This test measures how much urine is leaking when you cough or bear down.
- cystoscopy: This procedure involves inserting a thin, lighted scope with a camera into the urethra to examine the bladder and urethra.
Pregnancy-related urinary frequency and urgency usually resolve after you give birth. These symptoms will often subside about after giving birth.
Your doctor may recommend strengthening your bladder muscles through exercises known as Kegels. These exercises strengthen your pelvic floor. This helps you gain better control over your urine flow, especially after giving birth.
You can perform Kegel exercises daily, ideally about three times a day. Follow these steps:
- Tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor by imagining you’re stopping the flow of urine.
- Hold the muscles for 10 seconds, or as long as you can.
- Release the contracted muscles.
- Repeat 15 times to complete a single set.
You will know you’re performing Kegel exercises correctly if no one can tell you’re doing them.
You may have underlying medical causes besides pregnancy that are leading to urinary frequency and urgency. If so, your doctor will treat those as they are diagnosed.
Drinking enough fluids is vital to maintaining your health and your baby’s health while pregnant. You shouldn’t cut back on what you’re drinking just to reduce your trips to the bathroom.
However, you can cut back on caffeinated beverages, which act as natural diuretics. Doctors often recommend reducing caffeine intake to avoid potential pregnancy complications.
You could also keep a journal of the times of day you use the restroom. You can then plan on going to the restroom on or before these times to reduce the likelihood of urinary leakage. Leaning forward while urinating can help you to better empty your bladder.
Performing Kegel exercises at home can also help you to continue strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. Strengthening these muscles during pregnancy can also help you prepare for labor.
Practicing regular Kegel exercises can help you to gain some control over your pelvic floor and increase urinary control. However, there aren’t many other ways to prevent urinary frequency and urgency in pregnancy. As your baby grows inside your body, you may experience these symptoms.
Pregnancy can lead to more frequent urination and sometimes a lack of control over urination. Urinary frequency goes away after childbirth for most women. You should let your doctor know if you’re still having bladder problems six weeks after having your baby.