Family, Women's Health

Pregnant? Urine Trouble!


For the fifth time in about 20 minutes, I locked the door, turned on the tap and tried to ‘go’. Nothing happened. Nothing happened yet again.

I was starting to panic, I really needed to wee but I couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t come. I’d just had my twelve week scan so my bladder was full (usual practice for the early scans) and I was waiting to speak to the consultant because my last baby was VERY big.

I left the cubicle flustered and confused. My stomach was bloating and uncomfortable, my kidneys were beginning to ache and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

Back in the waiting area I Googled “pregnant, can’t wee”. There were a few forum board posts about difficulty urinating because of pain, and went on to explain that urinary tract infections are really common in pregnancy. These symptoms didn’t seem like the problem I was having, but at least I was already at the hospital.

The consultant called me through and seemed surprised by how much discomfort I was in – the pain was making it difficult to walk. I think she thought I was making a big fuss out of nothing and offered to catheterise me, whilst making the process sound as horrible as possible. By this point I was so desperate, I eagerly agreed.

About a minute in, the Dr’s face began to soften and she started to giggle. “We’ll need another bedpan,” she said through poorly disguised sniggers.

A second bedpan was brought and she stopped trying not to laugh. By the end of it, one bedpan was full, another was half full. I found it pretty hilarious too, in an embarrassing sort of way. The doctor seemed really impressed and told me she’d collected around 1125ml, the most she’d seen in her career (I feel like a bit of a braggart as I declare this, oddly enough!)

I was tested for infections, given the all clear and a new explanation.

Pregnant? Urine Trouble

What I was experiencing was a rare and embarrassing ailment caused by the pregnancy itself. It’s called pregnancy related urinary retention: a combination of the position of the newly expanding uterus putting pressure on the bladder (making the release muscle not want to ‘release’), and a surge of progesterone (as a result of the pregnancy) meaning the muscles are harder to control.

Some women wet themselves during pregnancy, I was not so lucky.

The solution was to not allow the bladder to get too full, so after giving the doctor a new dinner party anecdote, I was sent on my way, with instructions to wee every two hours, even throughout the night.

By the second night, my bi-hourly alarm was getting harder to adhere to and I ‘snoozed’ it on one occasion to allow myself an extra half hour. This was the beginning of my demise.

My bladder had shut off again and I wasn’t able to empty it.

I was told if I rang the ward I’d bypass A&E and be admitted for 24-48 hours with a fixed catheter and they’d review my case.

I rang the ward, the nurse I spoke to told me that admitting me without passing through A&E could not be done and made me go through ‘the correct channels’. A five hour wait ensued and because the doctor didn’t want to treat me until he’d spoken to the obstetrics/gynae ward I had to have morphine for the pain, rather than be catheterised again.

Once I was on the relevant ward, I must say, my treatment was great, a senior doctor even told me that my wee was a ‘lovely colour’ (see, here I am boasting again!).

I spent a pretty miserable bank holiday weekend with a fixed catheter and made my visitors sit on the side of the bed where my big bag of wee wasn’t visible (despite it being a lovely colour).

After almost two days I was discharged and told if it happened again I would have to self-catheterise (a horrific notion!). I had to go back to my two-hourly loo breaks and wait for my womb to move a bit more as that would alleviate the problem.

As it happened, the problem cleared up on its own, as predicted, within about two weeks.

I felt the need to share this embarrassing story because when I was experiencing it, there was nothing about it anywhere. I could find the odd medical journal article on it, but there were no real-life cases.

I imagine the combination of it being both rare and embarrassing explain the lack of first person narrative on it, so I thought I’d over-share, in the hope I reassure any other mothers-to-be-who-cannot-wee that it usually gets better on its own and in my case it did.

Diary of an imperfect mum

23 thoughts on “Pregnant? Urine Trouble!

  1. Oh my goodness! I didn’t know you were pregnant. How fantastic! Congratulations. Sorry to hear about your wee problems, but hope you are feeling better now. Take care of yourself.

  2. Aww sorry, I’m not pregnant! This was when I was pregnant with my son! I’m really broody though so you never know, maybe I will be in the next couple of years. I can’t wait to have a baby to crochet for! x

  3. Thanks for sharing. Sounds awful, and I sympathise as a similar thing happened to me but during the early stages of labour which made it extra confusing and uncomfortable!

  4. This sounds awful! Poor you- I never experienced anything like this although I did need the loo a lot throughout my pregnancies! Thank good it passed on its own Xx

    1. Haha I needed the loo a lot too! That made it worse! It’s a funny proble though, I’m glad I can laugh now! X

  5. This sounds SO uncomfortable. When I was a teenager I had the total opposite, I would get constant bladder infections. I don’t have the best bladder muscles so have to use the bathroom urgently. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for you going through this, especially since you couldn’t find any resources on this online too. Hopefully, you writing about your experience will be support for other women who find themselves suffering from a condition like this too. xx

    1. Yes, I hope others stumble upon it if they’re in my position! I was so worried I’d have to self catheterised! So, so glad I didn’t.

  6. Reading your post, I am grateful I was never in your shoes, it sounds pretty uncomfortable! I guess as a silver lining, your pee sounds gorgeous, and at least you can laugh.

  7. Oh god this sounds awful! I needed to pee every 10 seconds when I was pregnant and it was a nightmare but this definitely sounds worse. Also, a bi-hourly alarm?? No thanks, I don’t blame you for giving up with that!! X

  8. Oh my gosh! I cannot imagine! I didn’t necessarily have a hard time going while pregnant, but I did feel like I had to go all the time and sort of had to push to get it out, if that makes sense. Sorry you had to spend an extended weekend like that! I’m glad you’re doing better & I am going to share this on twitter in case there are other women out there who run into this issue. thanks for sharing your story!

  9. I had to have an operation to err…fix things up after the boy was born and they gave me an epidural and an overnight catheter – the nurse who came to collect the wee bag the next morning literally staggered away under the weight. I was mortified!! Thanks so much for linking 😀 #chucklemums

  10. I had to have an operation to err…fix things up after the boy was born and they gave me an epidural and an overnight catheter – the nurse who came to collect the wee bag the next morning literally staggered away under the weight. I was mortified!! Thanks so much for linking 😀 #chucklemums xx

    1. I know! It was actually the worst, it really hurt but after the fact I was slightly proud! I don’t know many people who are impressed by a large bladder capacity though, so it’s really hard to find people to boast to, that’s why I do it on my blog haha! x

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