Urinary Retention


Dear Midwife,
Hi, I had a difficult delivery involving three failed vacuum attempts and forceps resulting in a 3rd degree tear which is now healing nicely.

When I went into labour I struggled to urinate and the baby was posterior which increased the urge to push so the Dr suggested an epidural to alleviate the urge and so a catheter could be inserted to relieve the bladder. I was in the hospital for 7 days, after removal of the catheter I could not urinate, after 8 hours it was reinserted, After 48 hours it was again removed and after 10 hours I could not urinate. I was released on the condition that I self catheterize until I can urinate myself. Now it is 14 days since the birth of our beautiful son, but every 4 hours I still catheterize. Will I ever be able to urinate unassisted? Is it truly a matter of time.



I am SO sorry this is happening to you. I did have one patient who took two weeks to get back to normal with her first baby. She chose to have a foley so she wouldn't be going in and out all the time, but whatever. Taped the bag to her leg.

With her second, unfortunately the same thing happened, but she was much less worried about it, and got over it sooner. Other than being post-partum, she urinates just fine. Hopefully, the same will be true for you!

-- Cynthia, CNM

Cynthia Flynn

Cynthia Flynn, CNM. PhD, is the General Director of the Family Health and Birth Center which provides prenatal, birth, postnatal, gynecological and primary health care to underserved women and their families in Washington, D.C. Recently Cynthia served as Associate Professor of Nursing at Seattle University. There she not only taught, but remained in full scope clinical midwifery practice at Valley Medical Center where she cared for pregnant and birthing women, and practices well-woman gynecology, family planning, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

Cynthia founded Columbia Women's Clinic and Birth Center, where she took care of pregnant women and infants up to two weeks of age and attended both birth center and hospital births. Before Cynthia earned her CNM, she worked as a registered nurse in labor and delivery and postpartum and is a certified Doula and Doula trainer.