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After birth—bladder assessment

To promote optimal bladder function after the birth of your baby, a comprehensive bladder assessment is now part of your routine postnatal care. This information aims to assist you with your bladder assessment—if you require any further information after reading this, please talk to your midwife. 

How does a normal bladder work?

  • Your bladder fills with urine and when it is nearly full, sends impulses to your brain which in turn
  • lets you feel that your bladder is getting full and that you need to pass urine.
  • As your bladder becomes fuller, the feeling that you need to pass urine becomes stronger and
  • more urgent.
  • When you pass urine your bladder empties itself completely, or almost completely.

Bladder assessment

Why do I need a bladder assessment?

Sometimes, after having a baby, your bladder may only partly empty or not empty at all. Your bladder may also not give you the sensation that it is filling or full, or this feeling may be reduced. Most women experience improvement within a few days but, for some women, this may take up to a month. Rarely does the problem persist.

What does a bladder assesment involve?

A bladder assessment involves a review of:

  • any risk factors
  • your hydration status
  • your bladder function after passing urine
  • your indwelling catheter (if you have one)
  • your abdomen, fundus (top of your uterus) and bladder
  • the urge and sensation you have to pass urine.

What do I have to do?

  • Your midwife will encourage you to pass urine within four hours of birth or catheter removal. If you passed urine in birth suite, after the birth of your baby, you will be assessed four hours from that
  • time.
  • When you have the urge to go to the toilet, pass urine in the toilet then press the buzzer to alert your midwife.Return to your bed and await assessment.
  • Your midwife should conduct your bladder assessment within 15 minutes of you passing urine.
  • This process may be repeated several times to ensure that your bladder is working properly.
  • If you have not had the urge to pass urine for more than four hours, press the buzzer to alert your midwife and they will conduct a bladder assessment.
  • After you have completed your bladder assessment, make sure you go to the toilet every two to three hours and take the time to empty your bladder completely.

If you experience any of the following symptoms, at any time, please tell your midwife and they will conduct a bladder assessment:

  • Lower abdominal discomfort.
  • Interrupted stream of urine.
  • Burning.
  • Reduced sensation.
  • No sensation.
  • A feeling of incomplete emptying after passing urine.

Tips and tricks to assist youMAT318_MM_BladderAssesment_Graphic-(1).jpg

  • Clarify your timeframe to pass urine.
  • Ensure you have good pain relief.
  • Moderate fluid intake only—don’t over hydrate.
  • Don’t strain when you pass urine.
  • Prevent constipation and don’t strain when opening your bowels—use the lean forward position, as shown in the diagram.
  • Don’t rely on your sensation as it may be reduced.
Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-430080
Last modified 16/9/2020.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 28/2/2014
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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