You're bladder can take a beating during pregnancy.
It gradually gets less space and less support to function as you grow.
With these changes your bladder may send you mixed signals and create new habits.
Yes, your bladder talks to you. It sends signals to let us know when it is appropriate time to go pee.
How does your bladder do this?
The bladder is an amazing muscular organ. As it fills with urine it stretches. When it stretches there are receptors in the fibers that senses by how much. These receptors send the signal to the brain to tell us when the bladder is "full." The brain then decides if it's time to go pee.
When we're little the bladder doesn't signal until it's actually appropriately full.
Over time and during certain stages in our lives the bladder can learn new habits based on our lifestyle.
Your bladder is influenced by your diet, pregnancy, job, pelvic floor awareness, movement, bowel habits, gut health, and your reaction to when you feel an urge.
The habits you formed prior to pregnancy can be an indicator of your bladder control.
Here are some simple tips for bladder control to follow while pregnant that'll keep your bladder - brain communication balanced.
Drink mostly water!
There are drinks and foods that can irritate the bladder.
The main culprits are drinks that are caffeinated, carbonated, citric, and sugary.
When you drink these it's like having a bad party guest in your bladder. Your bladder wants it to leave.
So instead of the bladder signalling when stretched to capacity it's signally because it's irritated. When this happens on a regular basis the stretch receptors become over sensitive and will signal when the bladder is barely full.
Leading to more urges and frequent trips to the bathroom.
An urge is a signal not a command.
Because your bladder may signal when it's not actually full you need to be aware of when it's actually appropriate to pee.
During pregnancy, your frequency will increase, but not by much and not until later trimesters.
You can still work within the normal range of every 2 to 4 hour during wakeful hours to pee.
So when you feel the need to pee, ask yourself "when was the last time I went to the bathroom?"
If your answer is 1 hour ago, you may not really need to go. If your answer is 2 hours or more then good to go.
Drink throughout the day rather than large amounts all at once.
Sometimes we forget to drink or we get busy that when we remember we down a whole bunch of water at once.
This puts the bladder under more pressure to function. And during pregnancy when space comes at a premium your bladder is going to have a hard time holding on to the pee if it's walls can't expand enough.
Know how to contract and relax your pelvic floor.
Your pelvic floor works with your bladder to function. Not only does it keep the bladder in proper position it involuntarily contracts to keep pee in and relaxes to let pee out.
When you feel an urge and your brain decides if it's time to pee or not, it'll message the pelvic floor to stay closed until you reach the toilet and then to relax when seated.
Sometimes you'll need to voluntarily contract the pelvic floor to make it to the bathroom. By contracting your pelvic floor it can help ease the urge and make sure no pee leaks out.
But then once you reach the toilet you need to know how to fully relax the pelvic floor (so no hovering ladies!) to pee.
With the extra weight, less space and weakened core there is also the possibility of leaking pee when pressure is placed on the bladder.
To prevent that from happening you need to energize and activate your deep core to keep the pee in.
The deep core includes the pelvic floor (bottom), transverse abdominus (front), respiratory diaphragm (top) and multifidus (back). When they are all activated at the same time you create a support all around the pelvis.
So whenever you sneeze, cough, laugh, lift, push, pull, or anything else you do that you feel pressure down into the pelvis contract your deep core.
These tips will come in handy through out your pregnancy and beyond.
If you want to learn more about supporting your body and bladder through pregnancy check out Expecting Pelvic Fitness for even more pelvic health education!