Needing the Toilet at Night
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For many women, since the day they were potty trained they have been able to go through the night without needing to pee. All of a sudden, it seems like a good night if you only need to get up once!
Why do I need to urinate more?
There are two main causes for an increased need to urinate during pregnancy. Firstly, your body produces more blood while you are pregnant, which your kidneys need to process. As they are working harder, your kidneys naturally produce more waste, meaning that you need to pee more frequently. The second cause is the increased pressure on your bladder from the uterus, even during the early stages of pregnancy. Your bladder has less space than it did before so you have less capacity to store urine.
The second trimester often brings some relief from this common pregnancy side effect, as there is less pressure on your bladder. However, the problem often returns with a vengeance towards the end of pregnancy as the uterus gets very big, particularly after your baby 'drops' (moves lower into your pelvis in preparation for delivery).
Should I be worried about needing to urinate so often?
The need to urinate frequently is a very common side effect of pregnancy. It can be annoying when it gets you up at night, or when it means having to break up longer journeys for a toilet stop but it is not usually anything to worry about.
If you find that you have a burning sensation when passing urine, or that you often feel the need to go but cannot pass very much urine, then it is possible that you have a urinary tract infection (UTI). UTIs can usually be treated very easily, but it is important that you let your GP or midwife know quickly so that it cannot develop into a kidney infection which can be quite serious.
The need to pee is preventing me from getting a good night's sleep, what can I do?
Firstly, do not cut down on your daily fluid intake with the intention of reducing your frequent trips to the bathroom. Staying well hydrated during pregnancy is important for both your health and the health of the baby.
Do not attempt to train yourself to go longer between trips to the bathroom just by crossing your legs and thinking of something else. It is important that you go as soon as you get the urge and that you empty your bladder fully each time.
Consider whether you are spreading your fluid intake across the day. Perhaps out of habit you are drinking more in the afternoon or evening. Don't reduce the amount you take overall but you could try to drink less as bedtime approaches and a little more in the morning.
If you cut down on (or better still, cut out) caffeine you may reduce the frequency with which you need to pee. This is because caffeine has a mild diuretic effect, making you produce more urine than other drinks. If you cannot go without your daily caffeine hit then perhaps you can restrict it to mornings if you want to limit your night time bathroom trips. Alcohol is also a diuretic but general advice is to drink no alcohol at all during pregnancy.
You must accept that this is a normal side effect of pregnancy and while you can manage it to a certain extent, you cannot prevent it altogether. If, you cannot help but go to the toilet in the night then try to make it easy for yourself. Make sure that there is a clear path from your bed to the toilet so that you can get there safely without having to turn every light on. When you do go to the toilet, lean forward while you are urinating as this can help to ensure that your bladder is emptied properly. In addition, you could try the 'pee, then pee again' approach, just to be sure!
Sometimes I leak urine, what can I do?
As embarrassing as it may be, stress incontinence is quite common during pregnancy, and even more so after childbirth. The best way to combat these little accidents is to make sure that you are maintaining a daily routine of pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegels), and also that you are emptying your bladder regularly and as completely as possible. So go whenever you get the urge, and don't rush to get up until you are sure you are done.