7.7 Changes in the urinary system during pregnancy
The urinary system consists of the kidneys (a pair of organs on either side of the abdomen near the back), the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder where urine is stored, and a tube called the urethra that passes urine out of the body. (Look back at Figure 3.1 in Study Session 3, to remind yourself of the position of the bladder and the urethra.) The kidneys extract waste from the blood and turn it into urine. They must work extra hard to filter the mother’s own waste products from her blood, plus those of the fetus, and get rid of them in her urine. Therefore, there is also an increase in the amount of urine produced during pregnancy.
Needing to urinate (pee) often is normal, especially in the first and last months of pregnancy. This happens because the growing uterus presses against the bladder. In late pregnancy, a woman often has to get up during the night to urinate, because fluid retained in the legs and feet during the day (oedema) is absorbed into the blood circulation when her legs are raised in bed. The kidneys extract the excess fluid and turn it into urine, so the bladder fills more quickly at night.