The urinary tract infection is common in pregnancy. If it is left untreated, it may cause certain pregnancy complications. Learn the cause of urinary tract infection in pregnancy and what you can do to prevent it.
Urinary tract infections usually manifest as bladder inflammation, but they can also affect kidneys, urethra, and ureters, where the kidney inflammation is the most severe.
UTIs are already more common in women than men. But during the pregnancy, the body’s physiological and hormonal changes even further increase the chance for the infection.
If you suspect you have a urinary tract infection, tell your health care provider! With proper care, everything should be fine!
What causes urinary tract infections in pregnancy?
The reason is mainly the body’s physiological and hormonal changes during pregnancy.
Slower ureteral peristalsis, more relaxed smooth muscles, and the growing uterus, which presses on the bladder, prevent complete urine excretion during pregnancy.
The growing belly puts more and more pressure on the urinary tract, causing urine to pass into the ureter and kidneys.
These physiological changes and a changed urine’s pH create perfect conditions for the growth and spread of certain bacteria, leading to urinary tract infection during pregnancy.
Are urinary tract infections in pregnancy dangerous?
An untreated condition may progress into a severe kidney infection. Acute urinary tract infections pose a risk of developing preeclampsia, premature birth, and low birth weight.
To prevent its progression, doctors usually prescribe an antibiotic. Antibiotics cure the infection and prevent possible complications during pregnancy!
What are the risk factors for urinary tract infections in pregnancy?
The risk for urinary tract infection increases from the sixth week of pregnancy and peaks between the 22nd and 24th week. And most cases of acute kidney inflammation occur between the second and third trimesters.
Risk factors for UTI development in pregnancy also include:
- lower socioeconomic status
- previous recurrent urinary tract infections
- structural urinary tract abnormalities
- presence of kidney stones
How to prevent urinary tract infections during pregnancy?
Drink a sufficient amount of fluids is the best prevention of urinary tract infections during pregnancy. The recommended amount of liquid is about 1.5 to 2 liters per day. Drink mostly water! Pregnant women should also avoid carbonated drinks, coffee, and real tea.
Taking care of proper intimate care (avoid perfumes, sprays, harsh soaps, or body wash in the genital area), wearing appropriate cotton underwear, and avoiding pools also decrease the risk for urinary tract infections.
How should a pregnant woman recognize a urinary tract infection?
If you have an infection, you may have an urgent need to pee or peeing more often. However, frequent urination during pregnancy in most cases doesn’t men an infection! Frequent urination alone is a common sign of pregnancy that affects all pregnant women.
An asymptomatic urinary tract infection doesn’t cause any noticeable problems to a pregnant woman. It can be diagnosed only at a regular prenatal check-up, therefore, you should not miss them!
A bladder infection, however, causes many symptoms.
Acute bladder infection in pregnancy causes:
- burning and frequent urination
- painful urination
- pain in the lower abdomen
- pain above the pubic bone
- cloudy urine
- nausea and vomiting
A pregnant woman with those symptoms is advised to visit a gynecologist, who will treat her properly and refer her to a maternity hospital or introduce appropriate antibiotic therapy.
If the infection progresses into a kidney infection, you will feel:
- lumbar pain
- fever, often above 38 degrees Celsius
- vomiting dehydration
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