The urinary tract system which comprises of the kidneys, bladder, ureter and urethra sometimes could get infected during pregnancy. In reference to the March of Dimes, statistics show that up to 10% pregnant women will suffer from an UTI at some stage of their pregnancy. This number is an estimate, not an exact amount, but the point is that it is indeed a semi-common issue for pregnant women.
This should not worry you though as most of these infections are not serious if treated as soon as you get them and can be treated easily with antibiotics. However, if the UTI is left untreated, it puts you and your little one at risk.
The infection which mostly affects the bladder may spread further to the kidneys and cause you to experience problems such as sepsis, giving birth to a baby that is underweight and premature labor.
The bacteria which is known to be responsible for these infections is quite notorious and can make your pregnancy super uncomfortable.
Reasons For UTIs During Pregnancy
- Body and hormonal changes:
Urinary Tract infections are quite a common experience among expectant women. The main cause of suffering from an UTI during pregnancy is due to the changes that are happening in your uterus. The uterus is situated right on top of the bladder. This means that as the baby grows, pressure is exerted on the bladder causing it to block the urine drainage system, leading to an infection in this tract.
Also, during pregnancy, your hormones tend to be all over the place. Making it easier for this annoying infection causing bacteria to move around the urinary tract.
- Sexual intercourse:
Bacteria located near the vagina will be pushed further inside during sex hence causing an infection which could spread to the urinary tract. However, this should not spell gloom and doom to your sex life. If not advised otherwise by your doctor, sex is totally okay during pregnancy.
For this reason, it is advised that you should urinate right before and after doing the deed.
- Intestinal tract bacteria:
Bacteria such as Group B streptococcus commonly found in the intestinal tract may also be held responsible for some UTIs during pregnancy. This infection can be easily treated with antibiotics.
- E. coli bacteria:
This bacteria comes from the bowel. The human anatomy poses a greater risk of getting infected in that the rectum is located near the urethra. After a bowel movement, E.coli bacteria may be passed to the urethra as one wipes themselves. The wiping should be from front to back and not vice versa. This helps keep this region free from this bacteria.
Other reasons that increase your chances of having an UTI while pregnant include:
- Maternal diabetes.
- Kidney complications.
- Sickle cell anemia.
- Recurrent urinary tract infections.
- Urinary tract surgery in the past.
If you are affected by any of the above, be sure to talk to your doctor so as to have a smooth pregnancy free of UTI problems.
Warning Signs To Pay Attention To
- The need to frequently urinate.
- Pain or a burning sensation urinating.
- The presence of blood or mucus in your urine.
- Mild or severe abdominal or bladder cramps.
- Pain or discomfort during sex.
- Urine with an unusual strong foul smell.
- If the infection has spread to the kidneys you may feel nauseated, experience back pains, fever or chills.
If you experience any of the above signs and symptoms, then it is time for you to seek medical attention. In the hospital, a urinalysis or urine culture will help determine if your symptoms are UTI related or not.
Also worth noting is that 7% of pregnant women with UTIs do not develop any symptoms. This is not a matter to be taken lightly so get yourself checked during your next prenatal visit.
How To Prevent UTI’s During Pregnancy.
Urinary tract infections can be a nightmare during pregnancy and only augment the stress that you may be experiencing otherwise. However, if you adopt healthy eating habits you may never have to go through this kind of misery. Ways to prevent UTIs include:
- Go to the washroom as soon as you feel the urge to urinate.
- Drink the recommended 6 to 8 glasses of water daily.
- Avoid processed foods, liquor, and sugar.
- Abstain from sex when undergoing treatment for an UTI.
- Ensure you urinate before and after engaging in sexual intercourse.
- Use a bathtub once or twice a day and not more than 30 minutes.
- Keep off from strongly perfumed soaps or feminine hygiene products.
- Keep your genital areas clean; after you poop wipe from front to back and after urinating avoid rubbing. Instead gently blot dry.
- Ensure that the underwear you put on every day is clean and dry.
- Wear cotton underwear or pants with the crotch area made of cotton.
- Keep off from extremely body-hugging pants.
Prevention is better than the cure, right? Now you know what to do and what not to do to prevent UTI’s. Exercising while pregnant also helps, but obviously practice ones that are safe. Lastly, if you sense that you may have a UTI while you are pregnant, visit your physician immediately.