Why do you really have to pee in a cup so often during pregnancy?

June 21, 2024

Turns out, urine is actually a really great way to determine health. In fact, your women’s health team uses your pee to detect protein and sugar counts as well as checking for dehydration and UTIs. Too much protein or sugar can mean some relatively serious conditions like preeclampsia or gestational diabetes. You should expect to pee in a cup about once a month for 28 weeks, then twice or more from there after. That may feel like a lot, but don’t refuse it. Taking these consistent readings help providers ensure you and baby are getting the right care.  It is much better to know and treat versus being surprised. 

What is preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is a pregnancy complication that can cause high blood pressure and organ damage–typically the liver or kidneys. If left untreated, this condition can be life-threatening. Typically detected after 20 weeks of pregnancy, it can develop even if an early pregnancy showed no signs at all. 


Symptoms vary from one pregnancy to the next, but the main symptoms are elevated protein levels in urine and high blood pressure. 

Other symptoms can include: 

  • Decreased levels of platelets in blood (thrombocytopenia)
  • Increased liver enzymes that indicate liver problems
  • Severe headaches
  • Changes in vision, including temporary loss of vision, blurred vision or light sensitivity
  • Shortness of breath, caused by fluid in the lungs
  • Pain in the upper belly, usually under the ribs on the right side
  • Nausea or vomiting

Risk factors

It’s difficult to label a patient as high-risk for preeclampsia. Currently there are no recommended tests that can predict the onset. However, being under 20 or over 40, having a previous history or carrying multiples can increase the risk. Other risk factors may include: 

  • Chronic high blood pressure
  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes before pregnancy
  • Kidney issues
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Obesity 
  • Family history 
  • Having a 10 year gap between pregnancies 

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is a relatively common condition that occurs when your blood sugar gets too high during pregnancy. If diagnosed, it is very likely you will have a normal healthy pregnancy. However, if undetected with no action taken, it can cause your baby to grow larger than usual leading to difficulties in delivery and increased chance for a c-section. Other possible side effects are premature birth and a greater risk of preeclampsia. 


Most women don’t actually experience symptoms and gestational diabetes is only detected with a urine test. However, if your blood sugar gets too high you can become hyperglycemic and experience: 

  • Increased thirst
  • A need to pee more often than usual 
  • Dry mouth
  • Tiredness
  • Blurred eyesight

Risk factors

Similar to preeclampsia the older you are the more you are at risk of gestational diabetes as well as if you’ve experienced high blood sugar in the past. Other factors may be: 

  • Your body mass index (BMI) is above 30
  • You previously had a baby who weighed 4.5kg (10lb) or more at birth
  • You had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy
  • 1 of your parents or siblings has diabetes


It’s important to attend your prenatal appointments and screenings as much as possible. Detecting any conditions early gives you a much better chance to minimize complications. As well, if you work with a virtual partner like SimpliFed we can help you and your care team with frequent monitoring and appointments. 

If you have any questions or have experienced any of these symptoms. Please contact your provider.