Introduction

What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) during pregnancy? Am I at risk of getting infected? Can UTI hurt my baby?

These are some of the frequently asked questions by anxious pregnant women who, before approaching a doctor, seek a trustable source to learn about UTI in detail.

This blog details everything about UTI, its nature, complications, significance, symptoms, treatment, etc.

We hope, this like our list of other blogs, is going to be useful in your pregnancy journey. Read through till the end.

What is UTI?

The urinary tract infection during pregnancy or UTI is a clinical problem, which if neglected could pose a significant challenge.

Urinary Tract Infection

UTI occurs when bacteria infects the sterile urinary tract resulting in inflammatory responses including painful urination and other symptoms.

Sometimes the UTI affects the bladder, kidneys, ureters (tubes that carry urine from your kidneys to your bladder), or the urethra (a short tube that carries urine from your bladder to outside your body) itself.

In 60-85% of cases, the pathogens responsible for this infection are a combination of Enterobacteriaceae and Escherichia coli.

The remaining 15% is by Staphylococcus, 8% by Klebsiella pneumonia (∼8%), and 2-7% by group B streptococci.

UTI Symptoms in pregnancy

Sometimes UTI could also be asymptomatic, complicating the case further during its diagnostic process.

It, therefore, remains a crucial area of focus for obstetricians because of the risks associated with maternal and perinatal morbidity, and mortality.

UTI Symptoms in Pregnancy

Let us look into some of the symptoms commonly associated with UTI;

  • The urgency to urinate oftenIrritation/pain/burning sensation while urinating
  • Pain in the lower back or cramps in the lower belly loudly or odor in urine
  • Urine turns bloody, brown, or pink with the infusion of blood

The symptoms are slightly different if you have your kidneys infected.

You could experience one of the following.

Vomiting/fever/nausea pain on your upper back or partially on one side

The effects of the kidney infection could be severe; hence it is advisable to get consulted with your doctor even in the initial stages.

If neglected, the infection could turn contagious and infect the bloodstream, leading to critical conditions.

Why UTI during pregnancy Is Common?

Though UTI is common in women in general, there is a 40% higher risk in pregnant women leading to an increased risk of premature birth, low neonatal birth weight, or preeclampsia.

Hence, UTI during pregnancy are by nature diagnosed to be complicated infections and require immediate medical approach and treatment.

Let us see why UTI during pregnancy is common?

Hormones

While you are pregnant, hormones make a lot of alterations in your urinary tract, making it probable to catch infections.

Sometimes hormones could also lead to a condition called vesicoureteral reflux, where the urine takes up a backup flow, directly into your kidneys from your bladder.

The next important factor is while pregnant your urine is highly concentrated with more sugar, protein, and hormones, which makes you more vulnerable to UTI.

Body changes

Your body adapts to a whole lot of new changes typical of pregnancy. The most common of all is the profound structural and functional urinary tract changes.

In over three-fourths of pregnant women, due to the growing uterus, urinary tract dilation happens. The enlarged uterus gives pressure to the urinary bladder, adding to the intravesical pressure.

This state makes it harder to let out all the urine in a single go from your bladder. It’s the leftover urine that can now be the source of infection.

Medically it is called vesico-ureteral reflux, which is favorable for bacterial growth and the ensuing infection.

Additionally, there are few other predisposing factors to UTI including biochemical changes in urine that are pregnancy-specific, with a hike in amino acids, glucose, and hormone degradation products, that boost the pH level in urine.

Complications of UTI in pregnancy. Can UTI in pregnancy be dangerous?

Any sort of infection during pregnancy is unpleasant. If left untreated, it could either result in preterm labor or can complicate your delivery process.

Clinical records with UTIs have shown significant morbidity rates of both mother and baby. Therefore it is essential that all pregnant women be screened for UTI for asymptomatic bacteriuria levels.

Of the urinalysis including the ones for protein, red blood cells, white blood cells, urine dipstick, the most effective one is often the urine culture test to diagnose UTI.

“When untreated, it could either result in preterm labor, developing a membrane rupture, maternal chorioamnionitis, low weight baby with growth retardation and complicate your delivery process. If there’s recurrency in UTI, doctors prefer Prophylactic antibiotics.”

UTI commonly affects the bladder and urethra, but sometimes an undiagnosed UTI can result in pyelonephritis, which is when the infection spreads to the kidneys, proving to be much hazardous to both the mother and baby.

This needs immediate hospital care with a mix of intravenous fluids and antibiotics.

Not to worry. With instant care, you and your baby are going to be fine. The doctor, if informed of the infection in the early stages, can prescribe pregnancy-safe antibiotics. Early intervention can help you a lot!

Home remedies for UTI during pregnancy

We have handpicked these home remedies, but with a caution not to use them alone, as an alternative to antibiotics.

You can use this to speed up your recovery process, again with your doctor’s advice.

What is more needed here is constant monitoring and follow-ups of natural treatments by your doctor to ensure the UTI is getting better.

  • Never hold back urination, urinate whenever there’s an urge. This allows the bacteria to pass out instantly
  • Drink plenty of water, which helps bacteria to flush out from the urinary track easily
  • Take Cranberry juice adequately.
  • It is suggested by research vitamin C, Probiotics, and Vitamin C supplements may help treat recurrent UTIs in women do not have alcohol, caffeinated drinks, or spicy food that can irritate your bladder

Precautions for UTI during pregnancy

Additionally, here are some more precautions that you can follow as UTI precautions.

  • Clean and wash the genital area pre- and post-intercourse
  • Wear clean, dried, and comfortable underwear
  • Empty bladder after intercourse
  • Clean dry after bathing
  • Use water-based lubricant if you wish to while having intercourse
  • Avoid using strong soaps to clean your private parts

Conclusion

UTI continues to result in morbidity and other complications during pregnancy across all age groups. Not to stress, but you would be able to overcome this phase with care and support. All that is needed for your fetus and you are proper treatment, a diligent follow-up, and a care routine with your doctor.

 

 


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