Bladder Issues in Pregnancy

Uterus Weight

During pregnancy women urinate much more frequently due to the pressure of the growing uterus and their heightened metabolic rate. This greater uterus weight can also put stress on the pelvic floor muscle, causing incontinence. Finally, since the uterus is situated directly above the bladder, the increased uterus weight can block the drainage of urine from the bladder, causing infection of the urinary tract.

Overactive Bladder

Another way of saying that pregnant women have the urge to pee often is women have an overactive bladder during pregnancy. As the fetus grows, the uterus gets heavier and puts pressure on the bladder; as a result, the bladder cannot hold in as much urine and women experience a more frequent urge to urinate.

Pregnant women are also encouraged to drink a lot of water/acidic beverages to reduce the incidence of a urinary tract infection, and increased blood flow in their body makes pregnant women thirstier. Translated, pregnant women consume larger amounts of liquid, thereby further activating the bladder and increasing urine output.

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs), or bladder infections, are a bacterial infection of the urinary tract. UTIs are very common during pregnancy due to the pressure of the growing uterus on the bladder, which hampers the proper drainage of urine. In a urinary tract infection bacteria travel upward to the urethra.

UTI symptoms include a strong and frequent urge to urinate, despite small amounts of urine in the bladder, burning or painful sensation while peeing, cloudy and/or foul-odor urine, pelvic/abdominal pain/discomfort. Fortunately, UTIs are easily treatable with antibiotics. However if bladder symptoms are ignored and left untreated, the urinary infection can spread to the kidneys causing very painful side effects and ultimately possible premature labor.

Stress Incontinence: Incontinence refers to the inability of the bladder muscles to hold in urine, causing small or large amounts of urine to 'leak out' after a sneeze or cough, during exercise, or when a person laughs. During pregnancy the bladder muscles become especially stretched and as a result many pregnant women experience stress incontinence. Fortunately, incontinence dissipates after giving birth, although it does not disappear immediately.

How to Avoid Bladder Problems During Pregnancy

•- Kegel exercises are strongly recommended for pregnant women. Kegel exercises involve contracting the pelvic floor muscles in order to strengthen the muscles and thereby reduce stress incontinence and the leakage of urine. A typical Kegel exercise regime might be contracting the pelvic muscles for 15-30 seconds at a time, 30-60 times each day. Pregnant woman are further advised empty their bladder before performing their Kegel routine so as to avoid pushing bacteria upward to the urethra (which can cause infection).

•- Drink 6-8 glasses of water daily; consume acidic juices and fruits such as cranberry and lemon

•- Avoid caffeinated liquids and chocolate, which increase urinary output

•- Pee after sexual intercourse in order to rinse away any bacteria which can go up into the urethra and cause a urinary tract infection

•- Pee as often as necessary and don't hold in urine, which can increase the risk of UTI

•- After urinating, wipe from the front toward the back (blotting, not rubbing) to keep bacteria away from the urethra

•- Wear breathable cotton underwear as opposed to moisture-trapping synthetics

•- Avoid wearing tight-fitting pants, which can induce urinary tract back-up

•- Seek medical attention if peeing causes burning, pain, or discomfort

•- Take vitamins or herbal remedies or teas that help fight UTIs

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