You’re pregnant and doing some baby shopping, and you toss a few packages of newborn diapers. You might be considering grabbing some for yourself because you cannot. Stop. Peeing. This is a story that starts early on in your pregnancy, and if you’re lucky, you’ll have a reprieve during the second trimester. Once you enter the third, though, all bets are off as your baby’s job of growing bigger means that your bladder is minuscule and needs to be emptied a lot.
What causes frequent urination during pregnancy?
There are two main reasons you might find yourself heading to the bathroom more frequently while you’re pregnant, and neither involve morning sickness.
Early pregnancy: The American Pregnancy Association (APA) notes that frequent urination can start pretty early on in a pregnancy — at around 6 to 8 weeks. This early inconvenience of pregnancy can feel pretty rude, as your baby is teeny tiny and isn’t putting a load of weight on your bladder. So why does it happen?
During the first months of pregnancy, your body is super busy not only assembling a tiny human, but it’s also ramping up the body fluids you have on board. By the time you’re 34 weeks pregnant, you’re toting around 50 percent more blood in your body than you did before you got pregnant. Paired with a pregnancy hormone called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) and your kidneys doing their part by flushing your body out on the regular, you’re going to be peeing a lot more frequently.
Later pregnancy: As your baby grows, there will be less room inside your abdomen for your baby and all your organs, and while this can feel cramped and uncomfortable, your bladder will feel like it bears the brunt of your baby’s weight. A third-trimester fetus and the uterus its housed in basically squishes your bladder to within an inch of your life, and you simply have less room to store urine, so out it must go.
What can you do for frequent urination?
Before you ask, you cannot stop urinating because that is not healthy at all, even if it sounds like something you’d like to stop doing. There are, though, a few tricks you can use to perhaps stem the flow a bit and make your constant bathroom trips far more manageable.
Avoid caffeine. Caffeine shows up in coffee, tea, and soda, and can also be found in chocolate (sad trombone). While you may not be pounding coffee during pregnancy, you still might be having caffeine here and there. Experts say that avoiding it is for the best if you’re peeing your weight in fluids every day because caffeine is a diuretic, which means it’s going to have to make you pee more than you already do.
Pee when you have to. Resist the urge to try to hold your urine. Let it free as often as you want to, because holding it in can lead to issues that you definitely don’t want, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Stop drinking a few hours before bed. While this won’t keep you from peeing completely, it can make your nights more restful, as you might sleep a little longer between overnight bathroom breaks.
Prepare yourself for leaks. If you find yourself leaking a bit, wear protection. You don’t really have to wear a diaper, but you can grab a box of pantyliners or just use a regular menstrual pad to contain potential leaks.
When should you see a doctor?
While frequent urination is a completely normal (yet annoying) part of a healthy pregnancy, there are times when it absolutely isn’t normal. There are signs for which you should keep an eye out to make sure you’re not developing a UTI. A UTI can lead to a far more serious infection of your kidneys, and it can also lead to preterm labor.
Signs and symptoms of a UTI include:
- Blood in the urine
- Needing to pee right after you’ve already urinated
- Pain or burning during urination
If you have even one of these symptoms, contact your healthcare provider right away.
Written by Monica Beyer.