Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy

A urinary tract infection (UTI) happens when any part of the urinary system

A urinary tract infection (UTI) happens when any part of the urinary system

like kidneys, ureters, bladder or urethra becomes infected by bacteria and are common during pregnancy. 

Why are UTIs more common during pregnancy?

  • Hormones cause changes in the urinary tract during pregnancy and make women more likely to get infections.

  • As the uterus grows, its increased weight presses on the bladder. This makes it harder to let out all the urine in the bladder. Leftover urine can be a source of infection.

Symptoms

If you have a UTI, you may experience:

  • An urgent need to pee, or peeing more frequently
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Cramps or pain in the lower abdomen
  • Urine that looks cloudy, smells foul or unusually strong 
  • A feeling of urgency when you urinate
  • Blood or mucus in the urine
  • Pain during sexual intercourse
  • Waking up from sleep to urinate
  • Change in the amount of urine, either more or less
  • Pain, pressure, or tenderness in the area of the bladder

If the bacteria spreads to the kidneys you may experience back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting and should immediately see the doctor. 

Diagnosis and Treatment

A urine test will be done to test it for bacteria and red and white blood cells. A urine culture may also be done to see what kind of bacteria are present in the urine.

UTIs are most commonly treated by antibiotics. Doctors usually prescribe a 3-7 day course of antibiotics that is safe for you and the baby. 

Most of these infections are limited to the bladder and urethra, however, if UTI goes untreated it sometimes can lead to a kidney infection. If they do, UTIs may lead to preterm labour and low birth weight.

How to Avoid UTIs

  • Drink at least eight glasses of water or fluids in a day
  • Develop a habit of urinating as soon as the need is felt and empty your bladder completely when you urinate.
  • After urinating, blot dry the vagina and keep your genital area clean. Make sure you wipe from the front toward the back.
  • Empty your bladder shortly before and after sex.
  • When outside and need to use public toilets, it is advisable to use toilet seat cover, or disinfectant spray on toilet seat cover to avoid bacteria
  • There is a need to maintain menstrual hygiene from adolescence. 
  • Women need to change their sanitary napkins once every 6 hours to avoid bacterial infection spreading to the urinary tract. 
  • If you need a lubricant when you have sex, choose a water-based one.
  • Avoid strong feminine deodorants or soaps that cause irritation. 
  • Wear cotton underwear and change them daily.
  • Better to take showers instead of baths.
  • Don’t wear pants that are too tight.
  • Eliminate refined foods, fruit juices, caffeine, alcohol, and sugar from your diet 
  • Avoid intercourse while you are being treated for a UTI.

Conclusion

Urinary tract infections are common in pregnancy. Not all UTIs cause symptoms, but in pregnancy, even those without symptoms need to be treated to prevent problems later in pregnancy which means all pregnant women should have a test for UTI early in pregnancy. If treated early, both you and the baby can be safe from any complications.

Special Thanks to Dr Dr Sampathkumari (MD, DGO, FICOG, FC Diab., FIME) for the expert advice.

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