Frequent urination during pregnancy: causes and tips

Now that you’re pregnant, does it feel like you’re spending a lot of time in the bathroom?  Although frequent urination is an annoying symptom no pregnant woman enjoys, it is quite normal, and in most cases nothing to worry about. Read on to understand what causes frequent urination during pregnancy, tips on how to manage it, and whether it can signal a urinary tract infection.

When does it start, and what should you expect throughout your pregnancy?

First trimester
While the symptoms may vary from person to person, frequent urination is one of the more common early symptoms of pregnancy that starts around week 4 in your first trimester. 
 
Second trimester
As your baby grows and the pregnancy progresses, the urge may briefly ease off as your hCG hormone levels decrease. 
 
Third trimester
It’s common for the urge to return in late pregnancy when the growing baby places even more pressure on your bladder, often making nighttime bathroom visits more likely.
 
On the whole, the degree of urinary frequency differs from woman to woman. Some are inconvenienced by it throughout their entire pregnancy, while others barely notice it. It will generally last through the ninth month of pregnancy, until you give birth, before fading back to normal levels. 

What causes frequent urination during pregnancy?

After you conceive, the fertilized egg together with the developing placenta begins to produce an increased amount of the hormone hCG. This pregnancy hormone increases blood flow to your pelvic area and kidneys, which become more efficient during your pregnancy. The downside of this, however, is symptoms like nausea and a frequent need to urinate. 
 
The increased amount of pregnancy hormones also serves to soften up the muscles and ligaments in your pelvic floor, which helps your body prepare for the growing baby and its birth, but it can also lead to leaks and incontinence.
 
Moreover, as your baby grows, it will put more and more pressure on your bladder, giving it less room to store urine. This will be even more apparent near the end of the third trimester, as your baby’s head moves down to the pelvis and puts even more pressure on your bladder.
 
It’s also normal for fluid to build up in your legs, feet and ankles, especially during the third trimester. The extra fluid tends to accumulate throughout the day in the lowest parts of the body, especially if the weather is hot or you’ve been on your feet for long periods of time. So when you go to bed at night, and your feet are elevated, the fluid that has built up during the day finds its way back into the bloodstream and through the kidneys, where it is filtered out as urine, causing your nighttime visits to the bathroom.

Tips for managing frequent urination during pregnancy

There are things you can do to ease frequent urination and swelling, and consequently the need for multiple nighttime visits to the bathroom.
 
Fully empty your bladder when urinating
When you visit the toilet, lean forward and use good support for your feet. Using a good position like this can help you fully empty your bladder. 

Avoid caffeine
Caffeinated drinks such as coffee and black tea can irritate your bladder, causing an increased need to urinate.

Don’t drink too much before bed…
If you find you have to get up often to urinate during the night, try limiting fluids right before bedtime.

…but still make sure you get enough fluids
Don’t drink less overall, thinking it will help keep you out of the bathroom. Your body still needs a steady supply of fluids during pregnancy.

Elevate your legs before going to bed
Try to find time to elevate your legs before bedtime. This can help you stimulate the accumulated fluid in your swollen ankles and feet to move into the bloodstream, allowing you to urinate before turning in for the night.

Keep your feet and ankles from swelling during the day
Avoid standing for long periods of time, as much as possible. Try wearing compression socks, keeping your feet elevated when possible, and taking regular walks or doing foot exercises.

Use incontinence products
If leaks are becoming an issue during your pregnancy, using TENA incontinence products that can help you stay dry and secure throughout the day and night. 

Could frequent urination during pregnancy signal a problem?

While frequent urination is normal during pregnancy, it is usually only a problem if correlated with other symptoms that could potentially signal a urinary tract infection (UTI). These may include:
 
  • Pain or a burning sensation when you urinate
  • A sense of urgency to pass urine even after you have urinated
  • Your urine smells unpleasant, is cloudy, or contains blood 
  • A constant lower abdominal pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Feeling generally unwell
  • Urine leakage
 
Having a UTI while pregnant isn’t much fun, but luckily it can be treated quite well. If detected and treated early, it will cause no harm to your pregnancy. So, make sure to visit a doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms.

Conclusion

Frequent urination during pregnancy is common and sometimes annoying, but it’s usually nothing to worry about. The urge may vary throughout your trimesters, but once your baby is born, your urge should slowly abate. Now you only have your baby’s wee to take care of.

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