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Bladder care after the birth of your baby

Sometimes following the birth of your baby there can be difficulties with passing urine and this leaflet explains how we monitor bladder function to identify any problems.

Normal bladder functionShow [+]Hide [-]

The bladder normally holds between 300-600mls of urine. The bladder is a stretchy bag which acts as a reservoir to store urine until it can be passed conveniently. The brain controls bladder emptying by passing messages down the spinal cord and along the nerves to the bladder.

Sometimes after childbirth there can be difficulties with passing urine and emptying the bladder efficiently. It is important that any difficulties are identified early, in order to prevent long-term problems.

Identifying problemsShow [+]Hide [-]

To help us to identify any problems, we need to monitor how much urine you pass for 24 hours following the birth of your baby. If you plan to leave hospital earlier than 24 hours it is still necessary to monitor you have passed urine and to measure the amount you pass. Please measure all the urine you pass in the jugs provided and record the volume on a chart. Your midwife will show you how to do this. If you are not sure, please ask.

If problems occurShow [+]Hide [-]

You may have a problem with bladder function if:

  • you are unable to pass urine
  • you are passing only small amounts of urine 
  • you don’t feel empty after passing urine

In order to check whether your bladder is emptying properly, it may be necessary to carry out a bladder scan or to use an ‘in-out’ catheter. If either of these are recommended, they will be fully explained by your midwife. Occasionally it is necessary to leave a catheter in the bladder for 48 hours, to allow it to rest and regain normal function.

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