Bladder and bowel problems during pregnancy
During pregnancy, many women experience some rather unpleasant conditions like constipation, needing to urinate more frequently, incontinence and haemorrhoids (piles). Maintaining a healthy diet (nutrition) and doing regular exercise (movement) can help make your pregnancy a bit less uncomfortable.
You may become constipated very early in pregnancy because of the hormonal changes in your body. Constipation can mean that you are not passing stools (faeces/poo) as often as you normally do, you have to strain more than usual or you are unable to completely empty your bowels. Constipation can also cause your stools to be unusually hard, lumpy, large or small.
Learn more about constipation during pregnancy.
Haemorrhoids, also known as 'piles', are enlarged and swollen veins in or around the lower rectum and anus. Anyone can get haemorrhoids — they don’t just happen in pregnancy. When you’re pregnant, haemorrhoids can occur because of constipation and/or pressure from the enlarging baby and uterus.
Haemorrhoids may itch, ache, feel sore or even bleed. You can sometimes feel the lumpiness of them around your anus. They may also make going to the toilet uncomfortable or painful. You may also notice pain when passing a stool and a discharge of mucus afterwards. Sometimes you may feel as though your bowels are still full and need emptying.
Learn more about haemorrhoids during pregnancy.
The need to frequently urinate (pass water, or pee) often starts from early in your pregnancy. Sometimes it continues right through pregnancy. In later pregnancy, the need to frequently urinate results from the baby pressing or resting on your bladder.
Learn more about frequent urination during pregnancy.
Incontinence can be a common problem, and it can affect you both during and after pregnancy. Sometimes pregnant women are unable to prevent a sudden spurt of urine or a small leak when they cough, laugh or sneeze, or when they move suddenly, or just get up from a sitting position. This may be temporary, because the pelvic floor muscles (the muscles around the bladder) relax slightly to prepare for the baby's delivery. You can help to prevent incontinence by doing pelvic floor exercises.
Learn more about incontinence during pregnancy.
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Last reviewed: November 2021