Abdel-Aleem H, Aboelnasr MF, Jayousi TM, Habib FA Indwelling bladder catheterisation as part of intraoperative and postoperative care for caesarean section. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014; 4

De Sevo MR, Semeraro P Urinary catheterization during epidural anesthesia. Nurs Womens Health. 2010; 14:(1)11-13

Hinman F Editorial: Postoperative overdistention of the bladder. Surg Gynecol Obstet. 1976; 142:(6)901-2

Khullar V, Cardozo LD Bladder sensation after epidural analgesia. Neurourol Urodynam. 1993; 12:424-5

Loveday HP, Wilson JA, Pratt RJ, Golsorkhi M, Tingle A, Bak A, Browne J, Prieto J, Wilcox M epic3: National Evidence-Based Guidelines for Preventing Healthcare-Associated Infections in NHS Hospitals in England. J Hosp Infect. 2014; 86:S1-70

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. Intrapartum care for healthy women and babies. 2014a. (accessed 12 February 2016)

Infection prevention and control. Quality statement 4: Urinary catheters.London: NICE; 2014b

Nazarko L Avoiding the pitfalls and perils of catheter care. Br J Nurs. 2007; 16:(8)468-2

Nazarko L Effective evidence-based catheter management: an update. Br J Nurs. 2010; 19:(15)948-53

Niël-Weise BS, van den Broek PJ Urinary catheter policies for short-term bladder drainage in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2005; 3

Pomfret I Urinary catheterization: selection and clinical management. Br J Community Nurs. 2007; 12:(8)348-54

Velinor A Urinary catheterisation in labour. British Journal of Midwifery. 2015; 23:(1)11-15

Walsh D Medicalization of bladder care. British Journal of Midwifery. 2007; 15:(2)

Wee MY, Brown H, Reynolds F The National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines for caesarean sections: implications for the anaesthetist. Int J Obstet Anesth. 2005; 14:(2)147-58

Urinary catheterisation: Indications and complications

02 March 2016
Volume 24 · Issue 3


This article highlights the ways in which women may be catheterised during labour and the postpartum period. This procedure should be avoided where possible, and should never be undertaken without considering the possible complications that may occur. Women should be informed of the potential complications before catheterisation occurs, where possible. To help reduce these complications, it is recommended that an appropriate anaesthetic, antiseptic, lubricating gel is used.

Increasing numbers of women, either during the birth process or in the postnatal period, require an indwelling urinary catheter for a number of reasons. This could be because the woman requires a caesarean section, or because she has been given epidural anaesthesia as a form of pain relief during labour and is therefore unable to pass urine. Alternatively, she may have had a postpartum haemorrhage and insertion of a catheter is recommended (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), 2014a).

There are two types of catheterisation: intermittent, where the catheter is inserted into the bladder through the urethra and removed as soon as the bladder is drained of urine; or indwelling, where the catheter is inserted into the bladder through the urethra and left in place to continuously drain the bladder. Whatever the reason or method, where possible it is essential that the procedure and complications of catheterisation are discussed fully with the woman.

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Midwifery and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for midwives. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month