A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a painful condition where bacteria attaches to the urinary tract, then grows and multiplies. It’s often referred to as a bladder infection, and unfortunately, they are very common in pregnancy.
What Causes A UTI?
According to the American Pregnancy Association (APA), women are at an increased risk of getting a UTI from week six to week 24 of pregnancy because that’s when most of the changes are occurring in the urinary tract. Since the uterus sits over the bladder, the APA explains that when your uterus grows, it can block parts of the urinary tract. This can cause bacteria to settle in there and grow. Medical News Today explains another reason for increased UTI risk in pregnancy is due to lower acidity in a pregnant woman’s urine. This can open the door for bacteria to grow. Fluctuating hormones are also to blame, according to American Family Physician, because that can decrease the bladder’s ability to fight off bacteria. And as any pregnant woman knows, your bladder fills up more often during pregnancy, so that, combined with a weakening pelvic floor, can also cause bacteria to enter the bladder.
When To See A Doctor
Symptoms of a UTI, as explained by the APA, include a burning sensation while you are going to the bathroom, cloudy urine, bad-smelling urine, bloody urine, and cramping, just to name a few. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s best to see your doctor as soon as you can. Your doctor will likely give you a round of antibiotics to clear up the infection. Depending on which trimester you are in will determine which antibiotics the doctor will prescribe. But, early treatment is key.
While UTIs are common and won’t likely affect your baby, Medical News Today warns that leaving a UTI untreated can cause a kidney infection. Those are much more severe and possibly harmful to your unborn baby. The APA says kidney infections can cause pre-term labor and low birth weight. Symptoms of a kidney infection can include fever, chills, vomiting, and back pain. If you think you have a kidney infection, you need to seek medical attention immediately.
How To Avoid A UTI
The APA suggests women wear loose-fitting pants, and blot dry after peeing – both activities will help keep the area dry and clean. The group also urges pregnant women to drink eight glasses of water each day to keep the urine flushed out. Drinking cranberry juice can also help, according to a study by the National Institute of Medicine. Cranberries have compounds that may help prevent bacteria from attaching to the lining of the urinary tract. Vitamin C, Zinc, and probiotics also may ward off bacteria growth. Holding your pee in can cause bacteria to grow, so the APA suggests you pee when you feel the urge. Also use the restroom before and after intercourse, and don’t have intercourse if you have a UTI becsause it may introduce even more bacteria into the vagina.