Managing urinary issues during pregnancy

By Kristi York on April 19, 2013
You’re aware of your bladder like never before when you’re pregnant – and not just because there are baby feet constantly tap-dancing all over it or because ultrasounds require an overly full bladder. Fortunately your bladder usually returns to normal after delivery, so think of it as a short-term membership in an exclusive club. Call it Urine Nation.

Here are some of the most common issues you and your bladder might experience.

Frequent urination

Pregnancy hormones cause blood to flow more quickly through your kidneys, so your bladder refi lls faster. Combine that with the fact that your ballooning uterus is taking up more internal real estate. Your frequent trips to the bathroom are completely normal, and there isn’t much you can do about it. Try to completely empty your bladder when you go (leaning forward may help) and avoid drinking a lot of fl uids before bed.

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

UTIs occur when bacteria enter the urethra, move upward, and multiply specifi cally at the bladder (known as cystitis) or randomly along the urinary tract. Beware of these classic symptoms:
  • a burning sensation when urinating;
  • frequent need to urinate but only passing small amounts of urine; 
  • lower abdominal pain.

Not treating UTIs during pregnancy can lead to kidney infection, which can in turn lead to a higher risk of preterm labour and low birthweight, says Dr. Patricia Smith, a maternal-fetal medicine subspecialist at Hamilton Health Sciences Centre. She says, “Treated with antibiotics, the symptoms will improve rapidly. It is important to take the full course of antibiotics, to eliminate all the bacteria that are causing the infection. Avoiding intercourse and drinking plenty of fl uids to wash out the bacteria may also help.”

Asymptomatic bacteriuria

This is fancy talk for “bladder infection without symptoms.” It is found in about fi ve percent of pregnancies, says Dr. Smith. “Since we know that UTIs can lead to complications for both the mother and baby, a course of antibiotics is recommended.”

Stress urinary incontinence

The muscles around your bladder are under a lot of pressure, and for some women, they just don’t tighten up and close everything off like they used to. This results in your peeing your pants a bit when you cough, laugh or sneeze. Invest in a value pack of panty liners as a safeguard.

Urine charge: Tips for a healthy bladder

Do kegels
This simple exercise – tightening your pelvic floor muscles that you use to control flow of urine – helps retain the limited bladder control you have while pregnant. Even more important, they’ll help you regain control post-delivery. Do them for 10 seconds at a time.

Drink cranberry juice
Research has shown that cranberry juice may make your urine more acidic as well as prevent bacteria from settling on the walls of the urinary tr act. Check the label, though, to ensure you’re drinking pure juice, not a juice blend containing higher amounts of sugar and other fruit juices.

Stay hydrated
You and your baby need plenty of fluids during pregnancy. Avoid natural diuretics like pop, tea and coffee. Fill up your water bottle in the morning and try to drink the contents before lunch. Then, refill it for sipping through the afternoon.

Originally published in May/June 2013.

By Kristi York| April 19, 2013

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