Frequent urination during pregnancy

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The other day I had a slightly awkward run-in at the 7-Eleven at the top of my soi. I saw my friend—let’s call her Susie—who is six months pregnant picking up several packages of period pads. Susie does not have a teenage daughter or any other family member who would need these.

Taking a Break

Our eyes met briefly and we exchanged mildly embarrassed smiles. Neither of us mentioned the elephant in the room, but it was pretty clear what was going on. I’ve been in her situation twice before and I understood it all too well.

People love to talk about the beautiful aspects of pregnancy, and with good reason. The warm, natural glow of a mother-to-be or the moment when a newborn first opens its eyes are nothing short of magical. However, there are plenty of not-so-magical moments that we as a society simply feel uncomfortable addressing in public. Frequent and sometimes uncontrolled urination during pregnancy is definitely one of them.

So I’m going to talk about it today, since most mothers I know have had to cope with it. It’s an unfortunate but normal side effect of many pregnancies and there’s no reason for anyone to feel ashamed.

Why does it happen?
When you become pregnant, the body essentially goes into hormonal overdrive. You also start accumulating extra blood to help nourish your growing fetus. Within a few months, you’ll have roughly 50 percent more than you started with, which is why your fingers, feet and other body parts may feel a bit swollen. All this extra blood moves through your kidneys faster, filling your bladder up much faster than normal. To make matters even worse, as your uterus grows it may push down on your kidneys, making you need to go even more often.

The worst parts about having a bladder that refills itself constantly are that you’ll probably end up running to the bathroom in the middle of the night and sometimes a little pee may escape on its own. Plenty of women suddenly find that when they cough, sneeze or laugh, a few drops escape. This phenomenon, called stress urinary incontinence, is nothing to worry about, even if it is a nuisance.

What can you do?
Sadly, not too much. Like my friend Susie, some women find it useful to keep a supply of panty liners on hand. You can usually get away with fairly light ones, which are less uncomfortable in Bangkok’s muggy climate.

It’s also helpful to avoid liquids that are already diuretics, meaning stay away from tea, coffee and alcohol. Given that no pregnant woman should be going near the latter and coffee is constantly up for debate, it shouldn’t be too difficult. At the very least, try to avoid drinking tea or coffee near bedtime.

This does not, however, mean that you should forgo liquids throughout the day. Your body needs to stay hydrated both your child’s health and your own, especially when the temperatures are high (i.e. basically the entire year). Keep downing water even if there a few extra dashes to the toilet.

Finally, Kegel exercises both before and after birth can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and help you control the situation a bit more. In fact, nonpregnant women benefit from them as well.

Photo Credit: marabuchi via Compfight cc

Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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