During pregnancy, you may feel the need to urinate often, sometimes even when your bladder is almost empty. During later pregnancy, many women find that they need to urinate even more frequently. Many pregnant women leak some urine when coughing, laughing, sneezing or exercising. During pregnancy, it’s normal to need go to the bathroom often.
The bladder is a balloon-shaped muscle that stores urine. Muscles under the bladder keep the urethra (the tube where urine leaves your body) closed and keep urine from leaking out.
The pressure of a full bladder signals your brain, giving you the “urge” to urinate. When you urinate, the muscles around the urethra relax and the bladder tightens to squeeze urine out.
Your need to go to the bathroom will change throughout the stages of pregnancy. Sometimes, you may feel the need to urinate more often. Other times, you’ll feel like you’re back to normal.
- Your body contains more fluid during pregnancy.
- Your kidneys work harder throughout your pregnancy to flush waste products out of your body.
- As the uterus grows and rises higher during the second trimester, some women find that they don't have to urinate as frequently as before.
- Towards the end of pregnancy, the baby moves lower to prepare for labor and birth. This increases the pressure on your bladder, causing even more frequent urination.
- The added pressure may wake you up several times each night to urinate.
- It may also force some urine to leak out, particularly if the muscles around the urethra are not very strong.
For the first few days after delivery, you may urinate even more often as your body gets rid of the extra fluid of pregnancy. But after a few days, your need to urinate should return to what it was before you became pregnant.
Here are some tips for dealing with frequent urination or leaking during pregnancy:
Stay away from caffeinated drinks.
- Caffeine can make you urinate more frequently.
- Avoid beverages like coffee, tea, colas and other caffeinated drinks.
Do Kegel exercises.
- These simple exercises can help stop urine leaks by strengthening the muscles that keep the urethra (the tube where urine leaves your body) closed. They may even help prepare these muscles for labor and delivery.
- Do these exercises by squeezing the muscles you use to stop the flow of urine and holding them for 10 seconds.
- Do this 10-20 times in a row at least three times a day.
Avoid drinking fluids right before bedtime.
- Cut down on nighttime visits to the bathroom by drinking fluids earlier in the day.
- Reduce how much you drink in the early evenings and nighttime.
- But be sure to drink adequate amounts of water and juice during the day to make sure that you are not robbing your body of vital fluids.
Empty your bladder completely.
- To help prevent leaks, be sure that your bladder doesn't get too full.
- Try not to “hold it” when you feel the urge to urinate. This may mean more trips to the bathroom.
- When you urinate, try leaning forward a bit in order to completely empty your bladder. Always empty your bladder before exercising.
Wear a sanitary pad or panty shield.
- A minipad or panty shield can catch unexpected leaks caused by coughing or sneezing.
Talk to your health care provider right away if you have any of these warning signs:
- Pain or burning when you urinate
- The urge to urinate again immediately after you empty your bladder.
- Blood in the urine
These signs could mean you have a urinary tract infection (UTI), the most common infection in pregnant women. If untreated, a UTI can lead to more serious infection or preterm labor.
Last reviewed December 2013
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you know you're pregnant?
Knowing the signs of pregnancy can help you tell if you’re pregnant. Here are some signs that you might be pregnant:
If you have any of these pregnancy signs and think you may be pregnant, go to your health care provider. The sooner you know you're pregnant, the sooner you can begin prenatal checkups and start taking good care of yourself and your growing baby.
Is my baby moving enough?
You'll start feeling your baby's kicks at around the 28th week of pregnancy. By this time, your baby's movements are usually well established and some health care providers recommend keeping track of these movements.
- Track kick counts at about the same time each day when your baby is active.
- Track kick counts shortly after you've eaten a meal (when your baby may be most active).
- Sit or lay on your side, place your hands on your belly and monitor baby's movement.
- Mark every movement down on a piece of paper. Don't count baby's hiccups.
Keep counting until you've felt 10 movements from baby. If baby doesn't move 10 times within 1 hour, try again later that day. Call your health provider if your baby's movement seems unusual or you've tried more than once that day and can't feel baby move 10 times or more during 1 hour.
When will I start feeling my baby move?
Popcorn popping. A little fish swimming. Bubbles. Butterflies. Tickles. These are common words used by women to describe their baby's first movements. Also known as "quickening," it's a reassuring sign that your baby is OK and growing. This milestone typically starts sometime between 18 to 25 weeks into pregnancy. For first-time moms, it may occur closer to 25 weeks, and for second- or third-time moms, it may happen much sooner.
At first it may be difficult to tell the difference between gas and your baby moving. You might not feel movement as early as you are expecting to feel it, but you'll notice a pattern soon. You'll start to learn when the baby is most active and what seems to get her moving.