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From bump to baby: Urogynaecological changes during pregnancy

Portrait of a pregnant woman, who is about to give birth, looking at an ultrasound scan.

Pregnancy is a transformative journey, a time of profound physical and emotional changes. Among these changes are those that affect the urogynaecological health of a woman. This article aims to guide you through these changes and help you navigate this crucial aspect of your pregnancy journey.

Understanding urogynaecology and pregnancy

Urogynaecology is a sub-specialty that focuses on disorders of the female pelvic floor, such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. During pregnancy, the increased pressure on the pelvic floor can lead to changes in urogynaecological health.

The importance of urogynaecological health during pregnancy

Urogynaecological health is often overlooked, but it plays a crucial role in a woman’s overall well-being, especially during pregnancy. Maintaining good urogynaecological health can prevent complications during pregnancy and childbirth, and improve the quality of life postpartum.

The role of a urogynaecologist during pregnancy

A Urogynaecologist is a specialist who can provide expert care and treatment for women experiencing urogynaecological issues during pregnancy. They can provide advice, recommend exercises, and offer treatments to manage symptoms and improve urogynaecological health.

Detailed Explanation of Urogynaecological Changes

First Trimester: The Beginning

The first trimester may bring about the initial changes in your urogynaecological health. Hormonal changes can lead to increased frequency of urination. While this is usually normal, any pain or discomfort should be promptly reported to your healthcare provider.

During the first trimester, the body produces a hormone called relaxin that helps the ligaments in the pelvis to relax and the joints to become looser in preparation for the birth process. This hormone also affects the muscles in the bladder and urethra, leading to frequent urination.

Second Trimester: A Period of Growth 

As your baby grows, so does the pressure on your pelvic floor. Your uterus will expand from the size of a pear to accommodate your growing baby, pushing other organs aside and applying pressure on the pelvic floor. This extra stress on the bladder makes it easier for any additional exertion, such as laughing, sneezing or exercising, to push urine out of the bladder.

As the uterus expands, it puts additional pressure on the bladder, leading to symptoms like increased frequency of urination and urinary incontinence. The growing baby also puts pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, which can lead to pelvic organ prolapse if not properly managed.

Third Trimester: Preparing for Birth 

With the baby nearing its birth weight and hormonal turbulence reaching its peak, the third trimester often intensifies pressure on the pelvic floor, potentially causing urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse.

Regular pelvic floor exercises and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage these symptoms, as this period typically sees the most significant urogynaecology changes due to the baby's weight and hormonal shifts.

Tips and Advice

Pelvic Floor Exercises

Regularly performing pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and manage symptoms of urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

Healthy Diet

A balanced diet rich in fibre can prevent constipation, thus reducing the risk of putting additional pressure on the pelvic floor muscles.

Regular Check-ups

Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help monitor your urogynaecological health and address any issues early.

What is urinary incontinence? 

Urinary incontinence is a condition where you’re unable to control your urine flow. It’s a common issue during pregnancy due to increased pressure on the bladder.

What is pelvic organ prolapse? 

Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the pelvic floor muscles weaken, causing one or more of the pelvic organs to drop or press into or out of the vagina.

How can I manage these conditions? 

Regular pelvic floor exercises, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help manage these conditions.

Postpartum: Recovery and Beyond

After childbirth, your body begins the process of recovery. It’s essential to continue with your pelvic floor exercises to aid in the recovery of your urogynaecological health. Seek medical help if you experience any severe or prolonged symptoms.

The Journey Continues: Beyond Pregnancy

Urogynaecological health continues to be important even after childbirth. Postpartum recovery involves the healing and strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles. Continuing with pelvic floor exercises and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can aid in this recovery and ensure long-term urogynaecological health.

Remember, every woman’s experience with pregnancy is unique. Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate rest are crucial for a healthy pregnancy. From bump to baby, this journey is yours to cherish.

Private treatment at Benenden Hospital

Our expert Consultant Urogynaecologists offer a range of treatments in a discreet environment. To find out how we can help, contact our Private Patients team via LiveChat, by completing our online enquiry form or by calling 01580 363158.

Published on 09 April 2024