Pregnancy Incontinence: Urine Leakage During Pregnancy and After Birth

Are you experiencing pregnancy ? You’re not alone! Discover what it is, its causes and how to treat urine leakage pre and post-partum here

Women’s bodies are amazing. From our immense strength to being able to bring life into the world, it’s remarkable what we can do. Without a doubt, pregnancy is one of these incredible things, a time of discovery and surprises. Yet, for many expectant mothers, the journey includes some symptoms for which they may be unprepared. One of which includes pregnancy . 

Whilst it’s a subject few people discuss, incontinence issues are common both during and after pregnancy. However, 38% of women feel embarrassed when discussing urine leakage during pregnancy with a medical professional. This shouldn't be the case.[1]

From unexpected leaks to frequent trips to the bathroom, it can get frustrating. Read on to find out the ins and outs of pregnancy and incontinence, including causes and treatments, so you can feel confident to speak up about it. 

What is pregnancy incontinence?

Urinary is the inability to effectively control your bladder. It is very common for pregnant women to experience urine leakage during and after birth. In fact, 1 out of 3 women develop urinary incontinence during pregnancy and say the issue continues a year after giving birth.[2]  

Whilst there are many types of incontinence, expectant mothers frequently suffer from stress incontinence. This happens when physical movement or activity, such as coughing, laughing, sneezing etc. places pressure (stress) on your bladder, resulting in urine leakage during pregnancy. 

What causes pregnancy incontinence?

Weak which surround the bladder are typically to blame for associated with pregnancy. This tends to be a temporary symptom caused by the pelvic floor muscles relaxing in anticipation of labour. [3]

The pelvic floor muscles support the uterus and aid in bladder and bowel control. As your baby grows, the pressure on your bladder increases and the weight of your baby can weaken these muscles. 

Whilst this may be the main cause for urine leakage during pregnancy, there are many others, including: 

  • Hormones: Pregnant women have higher levels of relaxin, which allows the mother's body to expand as the baby grows. The hormone works to relax the connective tissues, supporting the pelvic floor. The influx of hormones, in turn, affects the ligaments that support the pelvic floor and urethra. 

  • Existing medical conditions: This includes diabetes, multiple sclerosis, anxiety medications, or a stroke in the past.  

  • UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections): An untreated UTI can increase the chances of developing incontinence symptoms during pregnancy. But, if you do contract a urinary infection whilst pregnant, there are ways to mitigate and treat it. 

What causes incontinence after birth?

After giving birth, the pressure inside your bladder exceeds the ability of your urethra to remain closed. As a result, childbirth can weaken the , resulting in an overactive bladder in some cases. This is usually the case for women who have a vaginal birth but can also occur after having a C- section. 

However, other factors and conditions that may cause urine leakage after birth include: 

  • An Episiotomy: An incision is made in the perineum during the delivery of a baby, making the opening of the vagina wider and easier for the foetus to come out easier.[4]

  • The use of an epidural: An epidural can affect the surrounding nerves; as a result, you may not be able to feel when your bladder is full after having one.[5] 

How to Treat Urine Leakage During Pregnancy and Post-partum Incontinence

Experiencing whilst pregnant and after birth can be painful and frustrating, but you’re not alone! The great news is that it can be treated.   

Here are some helpful home treatments that can help to manage urine leakage during and after pregnancy: 

  1. Kegel exercises for pregnancy: Pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegel exercises) are great for strengthening your . You can use the traditional method or try using a smart Kegel trainer like Emy by TENA.  

  1. Avoid caffeinated and fizzy drinks: Drinking caffeinated drinks such as coffee can irritate the bladder, so it’s best to avoid these. You can learn more about the types of food to avoid with an overactive bladder in our helpful guide. 

  1. Avoid drinking liquids before bed: Reduce your water intake in the evening to avoid frequent trips to the bathroom and leaking at night. 

  1. Eat a healthy and balanced diet: Consume foods that are high in fibre to avoid , which can result in straining to empty the bowel. 

  1. Keep a bladder journal: Make a note of when you notice the most leaks, so you can plan your trips accordingly.  


While uncomfortable, experiencing urine leakage during and after pregnancy is completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of. By understanding the causes and using the tips above, you’ll be able to handle anything that comes your way. 

If you’re interested in learning more about living with bladder weakness, take a look at our articles section for even more advice and hear other women’s stories.