What is frequent urination during pregnancy?
Frequent urination is when you need to urinate (wee) more often than usual when pregnant. Needing to go to the toilet more often during your pregnancy is normal and is caused by the hormonal and physical changes occurring in your body. Your bladder (which stores urine), your bowel (which your poo passes through) and your uterus (where your baby grows) are all located in the small space of your abdomen, so changes that occur in one organ are also likely to affect the others.
What causes frequent urination during pregnancy?
You experience frequent urination because when you are pregnant, your body produces more fluids than at other times. Your kidneys, which produce urine, also become more efficient. Your uterus – situated directly behind your bladder – becomes larger to accommodate your growing baby and as a result, it pushes against your bladder.
When am I more likely to experience frequent urination during pregnancy?
Frequent urination is common at every stage of pregnancy. During the first stages, hormonal changes increase the frequency with which you need to use the toilet. Later in pregnancy, it is more likely to be caused by your baby pressing against your bladder, while in the last few weeks of pregnancy, you may struggle to empty your bladder completely.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, it is common to wet yourself a little while coughing, sneezing or lifting things. This happens because these actions place more pressure on your pelvic floor, and for many women, the pelvic floor becomes weakened during pregnancy.
Am I likely to experience frequent urination if I have had it before pregnancy?
If you have had bladder problems before pregnancy, unfortunately these are likely to worsen after the birth. Women can also develop new bladder problems after having a baby.
How can I reduce frequent urination during my pregnancy?
While you cannot do much to lessen your need to urinate frequently, you can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Strengthening these muscles can help you ‘hold in’ your urine until you are able to get to the toilet. The best way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles is through exercise. Exercising the muscles will also provide a sturdy support system for your bowel, uterus and bladder.
Ideally, women should do pelvic floor exercises before becoming pregnant, but it's never too late. Remember to keep up your pelvic floor exercises after your baby is born too.
The Continence Foundation of Australia have produced this video on how to do pelvic floor exercises:
Could it be a sign of something more serious?
While, in most cases, frequent urination during pregnancy is quite normal and not a concern, in some situations it is best to see a doctor. If you feel a stinging, burning sensation or if you feel any pain when you use the toilet, it is important that you discuss this with your doctor. It might indicate you have an infection that needs to be treated promptly.
Will it continue after I’ve had the baby?
While you may continue to urinate more than usual after your baby is born, you will usually see an improvement in the first 6 months after the birth. This is because pelvic floor nerves, tissues and muscles are beginning to recover from pregnancy and birth. Make sure you keep up your pelvic floor exercises — your midwife can also guide you with what to expect over the first few weeks and months after your baby’s birth.
Where to get help
- Call the Continence Foundation of Australia on 1800 33 00 66
- Talk to your GP — Click here to find a doctor near you
- Check in with your midwife
- Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to speak to a maternal child health nurse
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Last reviewed: January 2021