Urinating more frequently than normal is common during pregnancy. As a standalone symptom, it is not a cause for concern, but a pregnant person should consult their doctor if they experience pain while urinating or other symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Frequent urination is a common early sign of pregnancy. Urinary frequency initially occurs due to increased levels of the hormones progesterone and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG).

While some pregnant people may experience mild changes, others may feel the need to continuously run to the bathroom throughout the day and night.

Frequency can also reappear later in the pregnancy as the uterus and baby continue to grow, creating pressure on the bladder.

Pregnant people who have a fever or chills, or notice a burning sensation while urinating, should seek immediate medical attention as it could be a urinary tract infection (UTI). Other symptoms may include back pain or a sharp increase in the need to urinate in a small period of time.

In this article, we discuss the causes and symptoms of frequent urination during pregnancy, how to manage and prevent frequent urination, how long it lasts, and outlook.

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Although symptoms may vary from person to person, many pregnant people notice they begin to need to urinate more frequently during their first trimester (week 1 to week 12). Some people may also experience leakage or stress urinary incontinence (SUI) while pregnant as the fetus grows and presses down on the bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor muscles.

The Office on Women’s Health notes that leakage may occur when:

  • sneezing
  • coughing
  • laughing
  • exercising
  • lifting something
  • walking

Sometimes urinary frequency symptoms indicate an underlying condition, such as a UTI — an infection of the urinary system.

In addition to urgency, other symptoms of a UTI include:

  • blood in the urine
  • cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • lower abdominal pain
  • nausea
  • pain or burning when urinating
  • loss of bladder control

Pregnant people are at increased risk for UTIs. According to one study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 8% of pregnant people develop a UTI.

If left untreated, a UTI can pose a serious health risk to a pregnant person and their developing fetus.

Doctors can often diagnose urinary frequency based on a person’s symptoms. In addition to doing a physical examination, they may ask a series of questions about how often the person is going to the restroom and how much they are urinating with each trip.

They may also ask about:

  • changes in the smell, color, or consistency of the urine
  • daily fluid consumption
  • the pattern of frequency (i.e. when it started and what time of day symptoms occur)

If a doctor suspects that the symptoms are not pregnancy-related, they may order one or more diagnostic tests.

Tests may include:

Frequent urination is an early sign of pregnancy and can begin as early as the first couple of weeks following conception.

Most people, however, may begin to experience urgency in weeks 10 to 13, as this is when the uterus begins to push on the bladder.

After an embryo implants in the uterus, the body produces progesterone and hCG, both of which are pregnancy hormones that can lead to urgency.

During pregnancy, the body’s blood supply increases to support the fetus. Approximately 20–25% of a person’s blood filters through the kidneys and leaves the body as waste or urine. The more blood a person’s body produces, the harder their kidneys have to work to flush the extra fluid.

Pressure is another contributing factor. As the uterus expands, it pushes down on the bladder, urethra, and pelvic floor muscles, increasing the urge to urinate.

Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, can strengthen the muscles of the pelvis and urethra and support the bladder. Performing Kegel exercises during pregnancy may help some people regain control over their urine flow.

Kegel exercises are safe to perform during pregnancy and after childbirth.

To perform Kegel exercises, empty the bladder and then follow these steps:

  1. Relax the abdomen, chest, thighs, and buttocks.
  2. Tighten the pelvic floor muscles and hold for 5 to 10 seconds.
  3. Relax the muscles for 5 to 10 seconds.
  4. Repeat 10 times.

The National Association for Continence (NAFC) recommends doing 10 repetitions three times per day.

Staying hydrated by drinking eight to 12 cups of water per day is vital during pregnancy. However, there are a few things a pregnant person can do to ease the flow, including:

  • cutting down on fluids before bed
  • avoiding caffeinated drinks
  • leaning forward when urinating
  • keeping a bladder journal or recording bathroom breaks

The average person goes to the bathroom between 6 and 7 times per day, though this number can vary depending on what the person drinks and how often.

Urinating between four and 10 times per day can also be “normal” as long as the person is healthy and comfortable with how often they visit the restroom.

For pregnant people, this number will depend on the individual’s “normal.” For example, if a person typically uses the restroom eight times per day, becoming pregnant may increase their visits to 10 times per day.

Pregnancy-related urinary frequency may ease up in the second trimester but usually returns in the final weeks of the pregnancy. Once the baby is born, a more frequent than usual urge to go to the bathroom should go away.

Frequent urination is a normal pregnancy symptom. However, it also can be a sign of an underlying condition that may require medical treatment.

Pregnant people who show additional symptoms of a UTI, including painful urination, should contact their doctor as soon as possible.

Frequent urination is a part of being pregnant and should resolve after childbirth.

However, some pregnant people may experience symptoms up to six weeks after giving birth.

Pregnant people who experience pain with urination or who are still having bladder problems following birth should make an appointment to see their doctor.

Many people experience urinary frequency during pregnancy, especially in the first and third trimesters.

Unless the frequency is accompanied by burning or painful urination, or other potential signs of a UTI, there is usually no need for concern.

Urinary frequency generally will subside once the baby is born.