Urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common type of infection where bacteria infect several parts of the urinary tract. This infection can affect the bladder, the urethra, and in more serious cases the kidneys.
For women, contracting UTI is not uncommon because their urethras are shorter and closer to the rectum, which makes it easier for bacteria to enter the urinary tract.
While UTIs are easily treated with antibiotics, it can be a serious concern for expectant moms as this can bring complications during pregnancy if not treated right away.
Symptoms of UTI
According to a study, pregnant women who are between their sixth and 24th week of pregnancy are more prone to contracting UTI. Early detection of this condition can keep the expectant mom and the baby from life-threatening risks.
Here are some symptoms that pregnant women can observe if they suspect they have UTI:
- Pain and burning sensation when urinating.
- Frequent urination. Not to be confused with regular frequent urination, this condition is usually sudden and there is an intense urge to urinate despite having an empty bladder.
- A small amount of urine is expelled when experiencing urinary urgency.
- Foul-smelling, cloudy, or worse, bloody urine.
- Experiencing pain or cramping in the lower abdomen, which may be coupled with low fever and other symptoms.
If UTI gets more serious like a kidney infection, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Pain on the upper abdomen, lower back or in the side of your back.
These are potential signs that you need urgent medical attention, so inform your doctor immediately if you experience these symptoms.
How do you get UTIs when pregnant?
Aside from their anatomy, expectant moms are more prone to UTI because of the physical changes during pregnancy. During this period, the production of progesterone increases, which relaxes the muscles in the urethras. As a result, bacteria can easily enter and rise up into the bladder, or worse case, the kidneys.
The uterus also expands during pregnancy, preventing pregnant women from completely emptying their bladder when urinating. This leaves behind a pool of leftover urine, which can be a perfect spot for bacteria to thrive and multiply.
The following factors can also increase the risk of UTI for pregnant women:
- Previous UTI experience.
- Sexual activity. While sex during pregnancy is perfectly healthy, it can potentially push bacteria in the vagina into the urethra during intercourse. To avoid this, urinate before and after sex, and to rinse the genital area.
- Poor hygiene. The Simple act of wiping your genital area, when not done properly (from front to back) can lead to UTI because bacteria can travel from the rectum to the urethra.
- Urinary tract problems such as abnormalities or previous surgery.
How to treat UTI during pregnancy
If you suspect you have UTI, get a check-up with your doctor, who will order a urinalysis to confirm your suspicion. When tested positive, you may be prescribed to take an antibiotics course, which may be completed from three to seven days. Common antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy include amoxicillin, erythromycin, and penicillin.
When the UTI is a mild case, it often goes away on its own. In this condition, you can opt for natural remedies, which are safer for you and the baby. Take note, however, to consult your doctor first before turning to any kind of remedies.
Meanwhile, expectant moms can practice these common tips to avoid getting UTI:
Always stay hydrated. Pregnant women are recommended to drink 10 cups of water or about 1.5 litres a day. Drinking plenty of water can help flush out bacteria from your urinary tract by making you urinate frequently. It also flushes toxins out of your body faster, thus, reducing the chances of developing UTI.
Do not control your urination. Urinate immediately when you feel the need to do so, also try to completely empty your bladder during urination.
Try cranberry juice. According to some studies, cranberry juice helps in fighting bacteria.
Increase your vitamin C intake. Either as a supplement or from fruits and vegetables, vitamin C helps strengthen your immune system. It is also linked to reducing the chance of having E. coli and can prevent urinary tract infections.
Check this list of the best prenatal vitamins to take during pregnancy.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Always maintain a healthy diet during pregnancy. Avoid substances such as caffeine, chocolate, and citrus juices that can cause irritation to your bladder. Of course, alcohol is strictly prohibited.
Avoid harsh feminine products such as deodorants, powders, and even soaps as these may contain ingredients that cause irritation.
Observe good practices during sex. Aside from urinating before and after the intercourse, cleaning your genitals with water can keep bacteria away. When using condoms, avoid products that contain spermicides. Using lubricated condoms or lubricants during sex also reduces excess friction which can lead to micro-tears and trauma.
Always practice good hygiene especially in your genital area. When wiping, do it from front to back to reduce cross-contamination of bacteria from the rectum.
Wear comfortable and loose clothing especially underwear as these allow air to pass through and keep the urethra dry. Check out the best postpartum underwear which you can also wear during your pregnancy.
Always pay attention to vaginal infections. Avoid serious conditions by treating UTI early.
While UTI is a common infection it is still better to avoid it or treat it immediately to avoid serious complications during pregnancy. By taking good care of yourself, you’re also keeping your baby healthy.
Original Article: theAsianparent