Department of Health


When you are pregnant, you get a lot of advice from many different places. It can be confusing. Bladder and bowel control problems are a part of pregnancy and birth that few people think about. Research shows that women are more likely to develop bladder or bowel control problems, if they have:

  • An assisted vaginal delivery (e.g. forceps)
  • More than one vaginal delivery
  • A baby weighing more than 4kgs
  • Long labours
  • Some tears in and around the vagina during childbirth
  • Constipation (especially straining to empty the bowel), ongoing coughing and being overweight can also make women more at risk.

How do you know if you have a problem?

You may have a problem with bladder control if you:

  • Leak urine when you cough, sneeze or exercise
  • Have a strong urge to pass urine and/or do not make it to the toilet in time

You may have a problem with bowel control, if you:

  • Are unable to control your flatus (wind)
  • Have an urgent need to get to the toilet to empty your bowel
  • Soil your clothes
  • Have difficulty emptying the bowel

What can you do?

Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Avoid constipation and urinary tract infections. Keep active. Keep to normal weight gain. Quit smoking. All these can stop bladder and bowel control problems from developing during pregnancy. For further information see: