When you’re pregnant, a constant need to wee complicates the simplest of daytime tasks, turning a supermarket trip into a frantic trolley dash.
It’s embarrassing at work when you have to excuse yourself for the umpteenth time, while a frenzied hunt for the Ladies can stress even the most relaxed of holidays.
Having to wee frequently is one of the very first signs of pregnancy, because your body undergoes major changes almost immediately.
‘The amount of fluid in your body starts to increase very quickly,’ says Michelle Lyne, a professional advisor for education at the Royal College of Midwives.
By the sixth week of pregnancy, the volume of fluid in your blood is already rising, with half as much again as normal by the second trimester. This helps to provide the extra blood flow through your placenta, necessary to deliver all the oxygen and nutrients to your baby.
‘Hormonal changes stimulate your kidneys to process all this fluid and get rid of extra waste,’ adds Michelle.
‘The filtered urine is then stored in your bladder, which can accommodate more than a litre of fluid. When your bladder is nearly full, the surrounding nerves send a signal to your brain and trigger the urge to go for a wee.’
So, the first reason behind your incessant need to wee is simply that your bladder is filling up more often. But it also begins to be squeezed as your uterus, which is the size of a pear at the outset, expands to support the growth and development of your baby.
‘By just 12 weeks, your uterus has grown enough to push your bladder from its usual position in your pelvis,’ explains Michelle.
‘There’s no reduction in the size of your bladder, but its capacity is effectively less as your growing uterus and increasingly heavy baby put extra pressure on it.’
During this initial jostling for position, the sensation of a full bladder will be all too familiar. And while things may settle a little in the second trimester, it’ll return in the last months.
‘There’s usually no reason to worry about how many times you’re visiting the loo, unless it’s accompanied by pain or a burning feeling when you wee,’ says Michelle.
‘Your urine will be tested for traces of protein or blood every time you visit your midwife, but do be vigilant between visits too.’
Toilet trips at all hours of the day – and night – are a pain, but this is not the time to cut back on how much you have to drink. Your wee should ideally be the colour of pale straw – more of an orange colour could mean dehydration, which brings an increased risk of infection.
So, drink plenty of water, except in the last hour before bed, to ensure your body fluids circulate instead of sitting in your ankles: eight 200ml glasses of fluid a day is the recommended amount.
‘You may also find you’re not only going more often, but leaking a little wee if you cough, laugh, sneeze or exercise,’ adds Michelle.
‘This is because pregnancy hormones, particularly progesterone, relax the muscles at the neck of the bladder and cause stress incontinence. The weight of your baby can also put pressure on your pelvic floor, making it more difficult to contract these muscles properly.’