Pregnancy and Your Bladder

A growing baby can deliver quite a hit to your urinary control, thanks to the pressure he or she puts on your bladder. Plus, the pregnancy hormones that relax the pelvic muscles to facilitate birth can negatively affect your ability to hold urine. Moreover, 49 percent of women with gestational diabetes report weekly or more frequent incontinence during pregnancy, according to a University of Michigan study.

Pregnancy OAB Image

Fortunately, doing Kegel exercises during pregnancy can help with leakage. But for about 40 percent of women, pregnancy-related incontinence persists to some degree after the baby is born. "If it doesn't go away three months after childbirth, it'll likely linger even longer if no treatment is sought," says Loyola University's Dr. Brubaker.

Can't shake the problem? Ask your doctor about pelvic organ prolapse. Here, the uterus, cervix or another pelvic organ drops out of position, increasing incontinence risk. "Postpartum, many women lose pelvic floor support, resulting in leakage," notes Dr. Rabin of Long Island Jewish.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse and OAB

Giving birth, getting older, gaining weight, suffering from a chronic cough—all of these things increase your chances of pelvic organ prolapse (POP), where one or more of your pelvic organs drop below their normal position. "Pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence are first cousins—they're not the same but they're highly related," says Loyola University‚Äôs Dr. Brubaker.

Prolapse can place excessive pressure on the bladder, which can then lead to urinary retention, OAB or incontinence. But like incontinence, prolapse can be effectively treated.

POP symptoms can be vague or mimic those of other conditions. To be properly diagnosed, your doctor should perform a thorough pelvic exam while you're standing up and again when you're lying down, Dr. Brubaker says. Otherwise, a doctor may gain an incomplete picture of what's going on or which organs are involved.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 17 Mar 2011

Last Modified: 06 Feb 2015