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Urination

Is it normal to urinate more often now that I'm pregnant?

When a pregnant woman asks to use the bathroom, people tend to smile sympathetically: They know pregnant women are more likely to need to excuse themselves, whether it's at a work meeting or a two-hour movie. There's no reason to be embarrassed by the frequent call of nature. It's a sign that your body is working normally.

Why do I have to go all the time?

The pressing need to urinate is especially noticeable in the first weeks of pregnancy, partly due to hormonal changes. Also, your kidneys are working extra hard to flush waste products out of your body. Then, as your uterus begins to grow, it presses on your bladder, which lies directly in front of your uterus. Urine production also increases as your circulatory system works to support the two of you.

Things will get better in mid-pregnancy, but it may not be long before you have new problems. In the last few weeks of pregnancy, the baby's head is down so low that it presses against your cervix and bladder, and you may find that you feel like you need to go even when you don't. This extra pressure may also cause you to leak a small amount of urine when you laugh, cough, or sneeze.

Is there anything I can do to prevent this?

Not much. You may be tempted to drink less water, but you actually need to drink more. During pregnancy, it's even more important than usual to stay hydrated by drinking at least six to eight glasses of water a day. Of course, drinking so much water will only make you have to go to the bathroom more! Try cutting out cola, coffee, and tea, because all of these beverages contain diuretics that help eliminate water from the body by increasing urination.

If night-time trips to the bathroom are interrupting your sleep, drink more liquids earlier in the day, then don't drink much for an hour or two before bedtime.

If you feel like you have to urinate every hour or more (but don't eliminate much when you do), or if you experience a burning or itching sensation when you go to the bathroom, you may have cystitis, more commonly known as a bladder infection. This infection may also cause extreme pain or blood in your urine.

The same hormonal changes that lead to increased urination also make you more susceptible to urinary tract infections. About 8 percent of women get bladder infections during pregnancy, but fortunately they are easily treated. Left untreated, however, they can lead to a kidney infection and even premature labor. So if you have these symptoms, call your doctor or midwife right away. It's likely you'll have to undergo a urine test to confirm the diagnosis and help your doctor determine how to treat the infection.

When will things get back to normal?

Very quickly after your baby is born you'll notice that your need to urinate decreases. You may not have to get up five times during the night to get to bathroom. Of course, that doesn't mean you'll get a full night's sleep. But at least you'll be getting up for a more satisfying reason.

References

Merck Manual. Normal Pregnancy, Labor, and Delivery: Physiology. http://www.merck.com/mrkshared/mmanual/section18/chapter249/249b.jsp

Utah Department of Health. Discomforts of Pregnancy. http://health.utah.gov/rhp/pregnancy/preged/duringpreg/discomfort.htm

Merck Manual. Kidneys. http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec11/ch141/ch141b.html

Mayo Clinic. The third trimester. Amazement and anticipation. http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm?id=PR00009

Mayo Clinic. Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day? http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm

Washington State University, Health and Wellness Services. Caffeine. http://www.hws.wsu.edu/brochures/caffeine.htm

Mayo Clinic. The first trimester. A time of invisible transformation. http://www.mayoclinic.com/invoke.cfm

American Family Physician. Urinary Tract Infections During Pregnancy. http://familydoctor.org/497.xml

La Leche League International. When Will My Baby Sleep Through the Night? http://www.lalecheleague.org/FAQ/sleep.html

March of Dimes. Your Healthy Diet During Pregnancy. April 2008. http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/159_823.asp

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