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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. Here we explain how we assess bladder function to identify any problems.


Normal bladder functionShow [+]Hide [-]

The bladder normally holds between 300 - 600ml of urine. The bladder is a stretchy bag which stores 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 note 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.

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.

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.

Avoiding ProblemsShow [+]Hide [-]

You can help to avoid long-term bladder problems by:

  • trying to pass urine regularly, about every three to four hours
  • drinking 6-8 glasses of fluid per day (not fizzy drinks, or too much tea or coffee) water is best
  • not drinking excessive amounts of fluid. If you are having problems passing urine, drinking large amounts of fluid does not make your bladder more efficient, it simply means your bladder fills more quickly.

Please make sure you remember to measure your urine every time you go to the toilet for the first 24 hours.

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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