New guidance on bladder and bowel care in childbirth published

20 Apr 2021

The publication provides advice and information for nursing staff caring for women through all stages of pregnancy, labour, and the postnatal period.

Pregnant woman holding belly

Bladder and bowel care during childbirth is a critical part of maternity services, as there can be short and long-term consequences for women and their support networks. 

This new resource addresses what women should expect in normal bladder and bowel function and advises nursing staff on clear messaging and facilitating open conversations. 

Women are often fearful, embarrassed or have limited knowledge of normal physiology and as a result, they rely on health care professionals to ensure they report anything that feels unusual or abnormal to them.

Women should not have to tolerate ongoing issues, and there is advice on how nursing staff can help them feel confident to speak up and seek help. Language barriers, referrals to physiotherapy, sensitivity to women’s cultures, faiths and beliefs are all discussed.

There is also advice on what to do for women with complications, such as perineal damage, urinary tract infections, and incontinence. 

Carmel Bagness, RCN Professional Lead for Midwifery and Women’s Health, said: “Care for the bladder and bowel are implicit parts of care in pregnancy, labour and postnatally and its importance cannot be overstated. 

“Complications can have an impact on a woman’s life for a long time, and such potentially life-changing complications may also affect her relationships with her partner and wider family, as well as her ability to look after her child.

“We hope this resource will help midwifery and nursing teams to engage with their patients and better provide them with the sensitive, compassionate and effective care that they deserve.” 


Page last updated - 17/05/2021