Reviewed by: Missy Nolan
Most women deal with frequent urination at some point during pregnancy. Frequent urination is one of the earliest signs of pregnancy; it typically decreases during the second trimester and reappears in the final six to eight weeks. However, the timeline can vary — some women experience frequent urination throughout their entire pregnancy, while others only briefly deal with this symptom. There's no set definition for frequent urination; it simply means that you need to go to the bathroom more frequently than you typically do.
Timeline for Frequent Urination During Pregnancy
There's no consistent schedule for frequent urination in pregnancy, but there are some general guidelines that fit well with most women's experiences.
When to Expect Frequent Urination to Start
Although peeing a lot is often a sign of pregnancy, when it first appears can vary. For some women, it can be the first tell-tale sign of pregnancy. Others don’t experience early pregnancy urination until the 12th or 14th week, when the fetus can start pushing on the bladder.
Frequent urination is also prevalent after the 33rd week, as the larger fetus can put a lot of pressure on the bladder and make it difficult for pregnant women to make it to the bathroom in time. Fortunately, you can rest assured that your incontinence may be temporary and could end after you give birth.
When to Expect Frequent Urination to End
Frequent urination can come and go, but it lasts throughout the pregnancy for many women. Once the baby is born, frequent urination typically subsides quickly.
Causes of Frequent Urination During Pregnancy
Pregnancy adds a range of reasons for frequent urination on top of the typical ones. Some of the most notable include:
Increase in Hormones
Pregnant women often experience an increase in several hormones, including progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). These hormones are associated with increased water retention and can lead to frequent bathroom breaks.
Rise in Fluid Levels
The amount of blood in a woman’s body nearly doubles during pregnancy. As a result, her kidneys have more fluids to filter and must become more efficient. These fluids end up in the bladder, which then needs to be emptied more often than usual.
Pressure Due to Baby’s Size
Pressure is one of the major factors behind increased urination during the late stage of pregnancy. As the baby grows in size and 'drops' lower as the body prepares for labor, it applies more and more pressure on the bladder and the pelvic floor. This can limit bladder capacity and make it harder for an expectant mother to control her bladder. As a result, trips to the bathroom can get much more urgent in the last six to eight weeks of pregnancy.
Frequent Urination Prevention
Unfortunately, urinating frequently is just one of the things women need to do during pregnancy. We don’t recommend avoiding going when you need to or limiting your water consumption — doing so can strain your body and is unlikely to help. However, there are some tips you can follow if frequent urination is causing you significant discomfort.
Try to limit caffeine consumption, including coffee, black and green teas, and energy drinks. These drinks are called diuretics and can make the body release water, which means more frequent bathroom breaks.
Avoid Drinking Water Before Bedtime
There's a term for frequent nighttime urination — nocturia. Nocturia occurs when you urinate more than twice per night, and the majority of women develop this condition at some point during their pregnancy. If you find yourself having your sleep disturbed by multiple trips to the bathroom, try limiting your water consumption just before bed. However, don't let yourself get dehydrated — have a glass of water if you're thirsty.
Maintaining Frequent Urination During Pregnancy
Despite doing your best to minimize bathroom breaks, they’re pretty much unavoidable during pregnancy. Here are some ways you can make them a bit less inconvenient:
Lean Forward While Urinating
The position you’re urinating in can make a difference, especially late in your pregnancy. If you’re sitting at an uncomfortable angle while urinating, your bladder might still be partially full at the end, which means you’ll have to go again soon. Leaning forward helps your bladder relax and empty out urine more easily.
Practice Kegel Exercises
Pelvic muscles are under a lot of strain during pregnancy, so you may find yourself leaking when you sneeze or laugh. Kegel exercises can be a great way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, but you may have to avoid them if your pelvic muscles are too tight or you have overactive pelvic floor muscles. If your doctor okays Kegel exercises, you may find that leaks are less likely, thus giving you a greater degree of psychological comfort.
If you find yourself leaking or you find it hard to control your bladder, pads may be the best option. Many women opt for pads as they give them a greater degree of security when preventing accidental leaks.
When to See a Doctor
Although frequent urination is completely benign in most cases, it can also be a warning sign of a medical issue. Please get in touch with your doctor if you notice any of the symptoms below.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Frequent urination can signify a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs have some tell-tale signs that can help you tell them apart from common pregnancy symptoms. For instance, you may notice a burning sensation while going to the bathroom. You may feel like you really need to go but then find yourself only relieving a few drops. Your urine may develop a particularly bad smell or even have traces of blood.
Pregnancy does increase a woman's risk of developing UTIs, especially in the second trimester, so please talk to your doctor if you experience any potential symptoms. Don't try to manage a UTI by drinking less water, since dehydration can cause incontinence.
Some expectant mothers develop a temporary form of diabetes during their pregnancy called gestational diabetes. This disease forms due to too much sugar in the blood and goes away after pregnancy. When treated properly, gestational diabetes doesn't harm the fetus. Still, it's important to get medical assistance as soon as possible.
The Bottom Line
All in all, frequent urination is an entirely normal part of pregnancy and is rarely a cause for concern. It’s most common in the early and late stages of pregnancy, although it can be present throughout the entire nine months. A number of factors, including hormonal changes, increased fluid retention, and pressure from the fetus, can cause frequent urination. Although frequent urination can’t be fully avoided, it can be managed.
Many women find that avoiding caffeine and limiting fluids before sleep can somewhat alleviate the urge to urinate frequently. Those who experience leaks can mitigate them by doing Kegel exercises or wearing Nexwear pads. These pads are developed to suit the needs of pregnant women and can make frequent urination far less challenging, both physically and emotionally.