UTIs During Pregnancy: What Every Expecting Mother Should Know

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are common among women and can occur at any time during one’s life. However, during pregnancy, women become even more susceptible. It’s crucial for expecting mothers to be informed about UTIs, their potential risks, and how to manage them during this crucial period.

During pregnancy, the uterus expands, putting pressure on the bladder. This can cause difficulty in emptying the bladder completely. Additionally, hormonal changes can affect the urinary tract, making it more susceptible to infections. Progesterone, a hormone produced in larger quantities during pregnancy, can cause the muscles of the ureters (the tubes connecting the kidneys to the bladder) to relax, potentially leading to urine stasis and increasing the risk of infections.

Untreated UTIs can lead to kidney infections, which can cause serious health complications for both mother and baby. In some cases, a severe UTI might lead to premature birth or low birth weight. Therefore, it’s essential for pregnant women to recognize the symptoms early and seek appropriate medical care.

Common symptoms of a UTI include a burning sensation when urinating, frequent urge to urinate, even if little comes out, cloudy, dark, or strong-smelling urine, pain or pressure in the back or lower abdomen, and feeling tired or shaky. Some of these symptoms can be difficult to distinguish from normal pregnancy related changes, so it is important to pay attention and err on the side of caution. It is also crucial to note that some women might have asymptomatic bacteriuria, where they have bacteria in the urine but no symptoms. This condition can still pose risks during pregnancy and, thus, routine urine tests during prenatal visits are vital.

If a UTI is confirmed, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics safe for pregnancy. It’s vital for pregnant women to take the full course, even if the symptoms improve. Drinking plenty of water, emptying the bladder frequently, and avoiding irritants can also help in managing and preventing UTIs5.

While UTIs can’t always be prevented, some general practices can help reduce the risk. Drinking plenty of water and urinating as soon as you feel the need can help prevent UTIs. Emptying the bladder before and after sexual activity, wiping from front to back after urinating or bowel movement, and avoiding irritants like bubble baths or harsh soaps in the genital area are also important precautions.

While UTIs can be concerning during pregnancy, being informed and proactive can greatly reduce potential risks. Expecting mothers should be vigilant, stay well-hydrated, practice good hygiene, and communicate openly and early with their healthcare providers about any concerns or symptoms. Remember, early detection and treatment are key to ensuring both mother and baby remain healthy.

Further Reading:

American Pregnancy Association. https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-complications/urinary-tract-infections-during-pregnancy/

Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/urinary-tract-infection/symptoms-causes/syc-20353447

American Academy of Family Physicians. https://www.aafp.org/pubs/afp/issues/2000/0201/p713.html

Posted in: Obstetrics, Women's Health

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