Bladder Control during Pregnancy

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 21, 2011
Quick Bites

  • Bladder training can be helpful in treating urinary incontinence during pregnancy.
  • Kegel exercises can be used to help control urinary incontinence.
  • Talk to your doctor if you still have bladder problems after six weeks.
  • Accidental leaking of urine may mean that you have another medical condition.

Your need to pee has probably turned into urinary incontinence, or the leaking of urine that is very common during pregnancy (especially when you sneeze, cough, laugh, or strain).


What You Need to Know About Your Bladder during Pregnancy


You can't be happy with your bladder — involuntary peeing during pregnancy can be annoying, messy, and occasionally embarrassing, but it's normal and (mostly) temporary. Always make sure that you are, in fact, leaking urine. A quick smell test should confirm it; urine smells of ammonia. If the liquid is clear and odorless, there's a slim chance you might be leaking amniotic fluid. Call your practitioner immediately. If you're sure it's urine, mention your urinary incontinence issues to your practitioner at your next visit and see what he or she recommends.

Bladder Control during Pregnancy

What to Do About Problems Peeing During Pregnancy


  • Do your Kegels! Try to work up to three sets of 30 Kegel exercises a day.
  • Keep your weight gain moderate, since extra pounds put extra pressure on your bladder during pregnancy.
  • Train your bladder to behave. Urinate every 30 minutes — before you have the urge, in other words — and then try to extend the time between pees each day.
  • Try to avoid constipation during pregnancy, so that your full bowels don't put added pressure on your bladder.
  • Keep drinking at least eight glasses of fluids every day. (Cutting back on water to control the peeing only makes you vulnerable to dehydration and urinary tract infections.)


Urinary Incontinence

  • Avoid coffee, citrus, tomatoes, soft drinks, and alcohol — all of which can irritate your bladder and make it harder to control those leaks.
  • Pads can help absorb leaking urine (no tampons, please — they don't block the flow of urine and they're off-limits during pregnancy anyway).
  • As a last line of defense, do Kegels or cross your legs when you feel the need to cough or sneeze, or when you're about to laugh or lift something heavy.


What are Kegel Exercises?

Kegel exercises are another method that can be used to help control urinary incontinence. These exercises help tighten and strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can improve the function of the urethra and rectal sphincter.

One way to find the Kegel muscles is to sit on the toilet and begin urinating. Then stop urinating mid-stream. The muscles that you use to stop the flow of urine are the Kegel muscles. Another way to help locate the Kegel muscles is to insert a finger into the vagina and try to make the muscles around your finger tighter.

To perform Kegel exercises, you should:

    Keep your abdominal, thigh, and buttocks muscles relaxed.
    Tighten the pelvic floor muscles.
    Hold the muscles until you count to 10.
    Relax the pelvic floor muscles until you count to 10.

Do 10 Kegel exercises in the morning, afternoon, and at night. They can be done anytime -- while driving or sitting at your desk. Women who do Kegel exercises tend to see results in four to six weeks.

When do you need medical help?

If you still have a problem after 6 weeks, talk to your doctor. Without treatment, lost bladder control can become a longterm problem. Accidental leaking can also signal that something else is wrong in your body. Bladder control problems do not always show up right after childbirth. Some women do not begin to have problems until later, often in their 40’s. You and your health care team must first find out why you have lost bladder control. Then you can discuss treatment. After treatment, most women regain or improve their bladder control. Regaining control helps you enjoy a healthier and happier life.

Images: Getty

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