About 10% of all future mothers suffer from urinary tract infections during pregnancy at some point. The good news is they are quite easy to treat with the help of antibiotics. But UTI during pregnancy is also very easy to catch. And if the infection has been neglected, it’ll be much more difficult to get rid of it.
Without proper treatment, approximately 25% of UTI during pregnancy leads to the kidney infection, and this is a serious problem, threatening the health of the mother and her unborn child. That’s why it’s so important to get your urine tested regularly during the whole course of pregnancy so that your gynecologist could recognize UTI in time.
What is UTI during pregnancy?
The urinary tract consists of the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys. An infection begins to develop after bacteria have gotten into the system and started replicating. The majority of the UTI are bladder infections which are not health-threatening provided that their treatment begins immediately.
If UTI during pregnancy is not treated it can affect the kidneys and cause a number of serious complications, such as premature birth, sepsis, or a baby born severely underweight.
Here are a few widespread UTI while pregnant:
What causes UTI?
In most cases, you can blame sex. The bacteria from the vagina or anus enter the urethra during sexual intercourse. Rich sex life can lead to the bladder inflammation which makes it easier for the bacteria to settle there.
Among other reasons for UTI during pregnancy, there are irregular urination (because when you urinate the bacteria are leaving the urethra and bladder) and chronic diseases, such as diabetes or neutropenia, for example.
Pregnancy itself is not causing UTI. However, the physical adjustments the female body is going through during it make you more vulnerable to the infections. First of all, hormonal changes which are common for pregnancy create the ideal conditions for the bacteria causing UTI (it’s usually Escherichia coli, also known as E. coli). The high level of progesterone causes the urinary tract muscles to relax, that’s why the bacteria easily enter the bladder and kidneys of pregnant women. The increased uterus interferes with the complete emptying of the bladder and, as a result, creates great conditions for bacteria. The growing uterus is the most common reason for pyelonephritis during pregnancy (renal pelvis inflammation) – the most dangerous of the urinary tract infections.
The signs and symptoms of UTI in pregnancy
Some women don’t have any symptoms of UTI while pregnant – such infections are called asymptomatic. As a rule, doctors ask pregnant women for urine samples from time to time to get them tested for UTI.
Among the most common signs and symptoms of UTI during pregnancy are:
- Sudden urge to urinate;
- Burning pain during urination;
- The urine has unpleasant smell or cloudy residue in it;
- Blood in urine;
- Pain in the groin.
The treatment of UTI while pregnant
UTI is usually easy to treat. Your healthcare provider will choose the correct antibiotics which don’t harm expectant mothers. Your pregnancy term and allergies will also be taken into account. In the majority of cases, pregnant women take amoxicillin or nitrofurantoin for 7-14 days – it depends on the severity of the infection.
How to prevent UTI during pregnancy?
There are no ways to completely avoid UTI during pregnancy – you’ll always have a risk of catching one of them. But you can do everything in your power to lower the odds of catching UTI in pregnancy to a minimum:
- Keep hygienic – don’t forget about using sanitary wipes after going to the toilet in order to prevent the spread of the bacteria.
- Drink a lot of water – more frequent urination will help to get rid of the bacteria in your urethra and bladder.
- Visit your bathroom immediately when you need to and try to empty your bladder completely.
- Follow a healthy pregnancy diet – caffeine and chocolate can lead to the inflammation of the bladder, and the bacteria will definitely use it to their advantage.
- Drink cranberry juice – cranberries help to prevent E. coli from getting into your bladder. Consult your gynecologist about the benefits of taking cranberry capsules or pills.