Constantly needing to wee has always been an accepted part of pregnancy and it’s something that starts really early on. In fact, you might notice you’re dashing to the loo like Usain Bolt every 5 minutes well before you’ve even told anyone you’re expecting.
In fact, one Spanish study found that needing to pee – aka urinary frequency – affected 41.25% of 224 pregnant women, which is a lot, really. But what’s worse than merely the inconvenience of having to skip to the loo all the time, is that 68.8% of the pregnant women surveyed in the Spanish study felt discomfort and/or distress, too.
So why does being pregnant make you want to pee?
Here’s the bit where we blind you with science! Hold it in for a while if you can, because here we go…
“The cause of frequent weeing in pregnancy can vary according to the individual and the stage of pregnancy, but a simple explanation for most is the pressure of a growing womb on the bladder. The bladder sits just in front of the womb and so is easily affected by an increase in the womb’s size,” says Dr Claire Hein Obstetrician, who is pregnant with her 3rd child.
Pregnancy hormones, which flood into your body when you get pregnant, cause more blood to flow through your kidneys. The waste products filtered out of the blood by your kidneys pass into the ureter and onto the bladder. Now, because there’s more blood in your body during pregnancy, the bladder fills with urine more quickly.
Another reason is the relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles, which happens as your pregnancy progresses. “When you’re not pregnant, these muscles keep the bladder neck closed when we don’t want to urinate. During pregnancy the muscles in the pelvis relax. This is to accommodate the baby as it becomes fixed in the pelvis and gets in an optimum position for delivery,” says Dr Hein.
Phew! Talk about relief! And now, in mother words…
“I can’t stop peeing, literally, I’m up 2 or 3 times in the night every night,” says Emmaao9 on our forum. “I’ve not had a full nights sleep in weeks, I’m also peeing a lot through the day too but I think it’s because I’m drinking way more water than I was before.”
As your growing baby gets bigger you may also feel the pressure on your bladder from your growing uterus more intensely, which makes the problem even worse.
Another pregnant MFMer says, “I’ve been like it all the way through my pregnancy! I am now 33+4 and I can go, wash my hands, leave the bathroom, get to the stairs then need another one! It really does my head in and some days I feel like setting up camp just outside the bathroom LOL I might take the TV up and some magazines and a few cushions and just stay there!”
OK – but why do I need to wee so much at night? It’s really annoying!
Getting a good night’s sleep when you’re pregnant is hard enough. But add needing to wee every couple of hours into the mix and it’s nigh on impossible. When you need your sleep more than ever, why does the need to wee seem so much more, um, insistent at night?
Because when you lie down, some of the fluid you retained in your legs and feet during the day (another lovely part of pregnancy!) makes its way back into your bloodstream. This blood is then filtered by the kidneys and waste products eventually enter your bladder as urine. Or wee-wee as you will be calling it for at least the next 5 years.
Lunareclipse says: “I’m peeing at least 3-4 times every night – not getting a decent sleep for about a week now. It surely can’t get worse than 3-4 times a night… I’ll be sleeping on the toilet!”
So it’s totally normal, right?
Probably – unless you’ve got pain and discomfort at the same time. A common sign of a UTI is a burning sensation when you wee and you might also have a fever.
Describing the pain, unhappyexuser says: “This was what I thought I had the other day, it was exactly the same as the pain I had last time when I had a UTI but the doctor said he didn’t think it was.
“I had blood in my urine and an extreme pain just above my pubic bone. I was in absolute agony and was almost crying from it!!”
That said, there are times when a UTI can be symptomless, so it’s always worth getting it checked out.
It’s also worth knowing that an increased need to urinate could also be associated with a bladder infection, or even diabetes. These items are screened for every time a pregnant woman visits her midwife with a simple urine dip stick,” says Dr Hein.
Oops! Quick! Pass me a Tena Lady, will you?
Another study (again by Spanish researchers) found that “more than a third of the population of pregnant women suffer from urinary stress incontinence” (that’s leaking to you and me) – when they’re pregnant. So if you find yourself trying very hard to hold on you’re not alone – especially if you’re in your 3rd trimester.
Stress incontinence happens when you literally can’t hold it in – the pressure inside your bladder as it fills with urine becomes greater than the strength of your urethra to stay closed (the urethra is the tube through which urine passes out of your body).
Any sudden extra pressure on your bladder, such as laughing or sneezing, or a baby pressing down on it can then cause urine to leak out of your urethra and into your maternity knickers. Lovely.
So what can I do?
Try to reduce the amount of decaf tea and coffee you drink because they both have a mild diuretic effect and they’ll make you want to wee even more.
And also, try to wee it all out when you do go. It’s worth sitting on the loo and leaning forward (as much as you can comfortably) to make sure you completely empty your bladder.
But don’t, whatever you do, cut back on fluids – you and your baby need to be well hydrated.