Urinary Incontinence During Pregnancy – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

7 min read

Written by Gunjan Bedi

Gunjan Bedi

pregnant woman unable to hold urine

Urinary incontinence or loss of bladder control is a common condition during pregnancy. It affects most pregnant women because their pelvic region becomes weak at that time. It could also be because your growing bump exerting pressure on the urinary bladder, which makes it hard to store even a tiny amount of urine. Whenever, you cough or sneeze, you tend to leak a few drops of urine involuntarily which is very common during pregnancy. 

Practicing Kegels from the beginning can help strengthen the pelvic floor. Strong pelvic muscles help you control urine leakage and also assist you during labor. However, if urinary incontinence is troubling you during day-to-day activities, do not hesitate to seek a doctor’s consultation. This article gives a gist about the causes, and symptoms of urinary incontinence during pregnancy.

In This Article

What is Urinary Incontinence During Pregnancy?

Urinary incontinence during pregnancy refers to losing the ability to control the bladder.  Your bladder is placed just below the uterus. As your pregnancy progresses, your uterus starts exerting pressure on the bladder which makes it difficult for you to hold the urine. With this, you may see yourself leaking a few drops of urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or do some physical activities during your second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

Is It Common to Leak Urine During Pregnancy?

woman with urinary incontinence during pregnancy

Urine leakage or incontinence is common in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. While some women get rid of this trouble after the delivery, some women continue to experience this for a few more weeks after childbirth. 

Causes of Urinary Incontinence During Pregnancy

Urinary incontinence during pregnancy is caused due to the extra weight that you carry. However, here are some of the other possible causes of urinary incontinence during pregnancy

1. High Pressure

The physical movement exerts extra pressure on the bladder, which causes leakage of urine. A pregnant woman may experience urine leakage when sneezing, coughing, and exercising.

2. Hormones

During pregnancy, the hormonal rush can alter your body’s functioning by relaxing the ligaments which may lead to urinary incontinence. 

3. Medical Conditions

Several medical conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and prolonged medication for anxiety, can cause urinary incontinence.

4. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Urinary tract infection is widespread nowadays. It can also lead to urinary incontinence.

Diagnosis of Urine Leakage/Incontinence During Pregnancy

The most common way to detect urine leakage is the urging of urination. You may have incontinence if you experience leakage of urine during coughing, sneezing, and other physical activities. Generally, urinary incontinence regresses or disappears after you deliver your baby, but if you are concerned about the inability of bladder control, do not hesitate to speak to your doctor. Doctors may perform regular tests to detect the medical reasons for urine leakage. 

Here are a few common tests that are used to diagnose urinary incontinence during pregnancy

1. Urinalysis and Urine Culture

A test to check UTI and sugar level. The test is often used to check urinary incontinence.

2. Bladder Stress Test

It mimics the unintentional urination that might happen when you giggle, cough, sneeze, or exercise. In a bladder stress test, the neck of your urinary bladder is slightly raised by a finger, or with any other instrument put into the vagina.

3. Pad Test

This test is very useful for checking urine leakage. An absorbent pad is given to the patient, which is weighed before urine leakage and after.

Likewise, tests, such as urodynamic testing, uroflowmetry cystometry, etc., are performed to detect urinary incontinence.

How to Identify Urine Leak or Amniotic Fluid Leak During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, a woman may feel like everything is leaking. The bladder becomes full, and you think it’s amniotic fluid leaking more than urine. Also, the vaginal tissue produces fluid, so it is difficult to know whether vaginal fluid is leaking, amniotic fluid, or urine. Typically, urine leaking can be detected through odor. Amniotic fluid is white-flecked, odorless, having blood or mucus, and may saturate your inner garment.

Another way to determine whether amniotic fluid is leaking or urine is

  • First, empty the urinary bladder
  • Place the panty liner or sanitary pad inside the underwear
  • After a few minutes or hours, detect fluid color
  • If it is yellowish, then probably it’s urine
  • If the fluid is whitish-flecked and mucus, it may be amniotic

[Read : How Will I Know If I Am Leaking Amniotic Fluid?]

How to Prevent Urinary Incontinence During Pregnancy?

You can prevent pregnancy incontinence by making a few changes in your diet and daily routine.

1. Avoid Caffeine

Because caffeine can complicate the issue during pregnancy.

2. Do Not Cut Down on Water

Because dehydration is the main gateway for urinary tract infections(UTI).

3. Try Kegel Exercises or Pelvic Floor Muscle Tightening Exercises

They can help to prevent bladder control issues. If the condition lasts longer and worsens, it is advised to seek a professional doctor.

Treatment Options For Pregnancy Incontinence

doctor explaining about the urinary bladder

There are several treatment options available to deal with pregnancy incontinence. Here are a handful of tips and treatments that help to improve your condition.

1. Bladder Training

Bladder training is very beneficial in treating urinary incontinence. The aim is to control the urge to urinate and delay urination. Double voiding is a technique that helps to strengthen the pelvic floor. In this technique, the patient must wait for a few minutes and then urinate again. The technique helps improve muscle strength and treat urinary incontinence.

2. Medications 

If regular remedies don’t work, doctors may prescribe some medications to treat urinary incontinence. It helps calm down an overactive bladder and helps women be at ease. Some other oral drugs that your doctor suggests may also help fill up the bladder and reduces the urge to urinate which usually is followed by urine leakage. 

3. Surgical Procedure

Surgical media procedure is often recommended to help patients suffering from extreme loss of bladder control. 

  • Sling procedure (mesh inserted beneath the bladder neck to support urethral pipes)
  • Colposuspension (lifting bladder neck to relieve the stress occurring due to incontinence)
  • Artificial sphincter (inserted into the vagina to control urine flow)

However, medical intervention should be the last option during your pregnancy. Pregnancy urinary incontinence is quite common. You can prevent this or control this from occurring by following a few exercises and diet changes. 

Will Pregnancy Incontinence Continue Post-Birth?

Pregnancy incontinence fades away within a few weeks after the baby’s delivery. As soon as the tissues recover and stretch muscles back to normal, the incontinence after childbirth recovers. However, in some cases, it may take up to months to fully recover. In that case, you can get help from doctors to avoid such situations.

Top 4 Exercises For Urinary Incontinence During Pregnancy

pregnant woman doing squats

Here are a few exercises that can help improve your condition during pregnancy

1. Kegels Exercises

This exercise helps to strengthen your pelvic floor. Kegels exercise is beneficial during pregnancy and after pregnancy. To do the kegel exercise, focus on the pelvic muscles that help to hold urine. Squeeze pelvic muscles for ten seconds and relax them. Do at least five to ten sets of exercises every day. Doing this exercise regularly during pregnancy is helpful to ease down labor.

[Read : Top 5 Benefits of Kegels during Pregnancy]

2. Belly Breathing

Keep the hands on your abdomen, your lower back lifted, and your legs. As you gently inhale through the nostril and let the abdomen expand, keep your spine and shoulders motionless. Squeeze in your stomach muscles and move your navel into the spine as you blow via your lips. The exercise helps strengthen the abdominals.

3. Elevators

Sit down, supporting your lower back and hands on the upper belly and one hand near the navel. Inhale and exhale air and count to 30. Practice these squeezes to strengthen the abs and the urinary bladder muscles.

4. Squats

Squats are also beneficial in dealing with urinary incontinence. Deep squats or sumo squats are helpful in strengthening the pelvic floor, legs, and abs.

[Read : Squats During Pregnancy]

When Should You Consider Seeing the Doctor?

Many women don’t like to discuss urinary incontinence. Still, if the condition is worsening and your incontinence is not in control and is affecting your life, it is advised to proceed with medical advice from a reputable doctor. Incontinence can weaken the knees and negatively impact your day-to-day life.

Urinary incontinence is very common during pregnancy. Usually, urinary incontinence gets better and disappears after you deliver the baby. However, sometimes the state lasts longer and may affect women throughout their life. In that case, consult your doctor and take appropriate treatment from them for a better cure.


1. In What Week of Pregnancy is Urinary Incontinence Very Common?

At 10-14 weeks of pregnancy and 36 weeks of pregnancy, urinary incontinence is very common.

2. How Can I Stop Pregnancy Incontinence?

You can not do anything to stop pregnancy urinary incontinence. It is common to leak small amounts of urine during the second and third trimesters because of the pressure exerted on your bladder. However, practicing kegel exercises and pelvic floor exercises can help prevent and control pregnancy incontinence. 

3. How Can I Treat Pregnancy Incontinence at Home?

You can control pregnancy incontinence at home by performing exercises such as Kegel and pelvic to strengthen pelvic muscles. Take a well-balanced diet, avoid heavy lifting, lose excess weight, and quit smoking.

Read Also: Bloating During Pregnancy – Causes and Tips For Relief

Gunjan Bedi,B.Sc (Biotechnology), M.Sc (Microbiology)

Gunjan Bedi an inspirational writer and story teller. My background in medical science make me a perfect content writer in parenting and medical content writing niche. My content has touched millions of readers within three years. Since past three years I have worked with several clients in different niche and provide easy to read content that readers love the most.Read more.

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