Risks And Outlook For A Uti In Pregnancy
Because of growing concern for antibiotic resistance, researchers are looking for alternative treatments for UTIs.
While several methods show promise as effective treatments for UTIs in pregnant women, more research is needed, and antibiotics remain the most common and understood form of treatment.
It is important to seek medical attention if you are pregnant and think you may have a UTI. When not treated properly, UTIs can be harmful to you and your baby. Always consult with your doctor before trying a new home remedy.
What Are The Symptoms Of Utis During Pregnancy
Common symptoms of a UTI during pregnancy are similar to those that you might experience at any other time, and include:
- a burning sensation when you pass urine
- feeling the urge to urinate more often than usual
- urinating before you reach the toilet
- feeling like your bladder is full, even after you have urinated
- urine that looks cloudy, bloody or is very smelly
- pain above the pubic bone
Sometimes the first sign of an infection is a faint prickly sensation when you pass urine. If the infection is more advanced and has moved up to the kidneys, you may also experience fever with a particularly high temperature, back pain and vomiting.
Is A Uti Dangerous During Pregnancy
Any infection during pregnancy can be extremely dangerous for you and your baby. Thats because infections increase the risk of premature labor.
I found out the hard way that an untreated UTI during pregnancy can also wreak havoc after you deliver. After I had my first daughter, I woke up a mere 24 hours after coming home with a fever approaching 105F .
I landed back in the hospital with a raging infection from an undiagnosed UTI, a condition called pyelonephritis. Pyelonephritis can be a life-threatening illness for both mother and baby. It had spread to my kidneys, and they suffered permanent damage as a result.
Moral of the story? Let your doctor know if you have any symptoms of a UTI during pregnancy. If youre prescribed antibiotics, be sure to take every last pill to knock out that infection.
You can help prevent UTIs during your pregnancy by:
- emptying your bladder frequently, especially before and after sex
- wearing only cotton underwear
- avoiding douches, perfumes, or sprays
- drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated
- avoiding any harsh soaps or body wash in the genital area
Most UTIs during pregnancy are treated with a course of antibiotics. Your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic that is pregnancy-safe but still effective in killing off bacteria in your body.
If your UTI has progressed to a kidney infection, you may need to take a stronger antibiotic or have an intravenous version administered.
Causes For Utis During Pregnancy
You will experience UTIs during pregnancy for several reasons. Some of the causes may not be directly related to the problem. Several factors can lead to such infections, and they are:
The bacteria causing the infections can come from several places. The most common one is E Coli which comes from the bowel. The urethra is located close to the rectum, so the bacteria can easily be transported. A solution is to wipe from front to back instead of back to front, keeping the bacteria away from this area.
With changes in your hormones, the bacteria will have an easier opportunity to travel up the urinary tract and start an infection. Your bladder experiences increased pressure from the growing uterus, making it difficult to empty the urine completely.
It is a type of bacteria that can cause UTIs during pregnancy, even if they are carried in the intestinal tract. In the late stage of your pregnancy, your doctor should test you for this infection and give you the necessary treatment.
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Things You Can Try Yourself
If you have mild symptoms of cystitis, it can help to:
- take paracetamol up to 4 times a day to reduce pain
- give children liquid paracetamol follow the instructions on the bottle
- drink plenty of water
- avoid drinks that may irritate your bladder, like fruit juices, coffee and alcohol
Some people take cystitis sachets or cranberry drinks and products every day to prevent cystitis from happening, which might help. However, theres no evidence they help ease symptoms or treat cystitis if the infection has already started.
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How To Treat A Uti While Pregnant
UTIs can usually be treated at home with oral antibiotics, but kidney infectionsespecially during pregnancyusually require admission to the hospital for intravenous antibiotics, says Dr. Terry. Its important to distinguish between the two types of infection for treatment, so make sure to tell your doctor if you have any back pain, fever, nausea, or vomiting.
There are several medications to treat a UTI, and many of them are considered safe to use during pregnancy.
There are some antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy benefits outweigh the risks, Dr. Reed says. Most commonly prescribed antibiotics include beta-lactams, cephalexin,amoxicillin, ampicillin, and fosfomycin.
Some antibiotics are prescribed or avoided depending on what trimester of pregnancy youre in Dr. Reed says nitrofurantoin and Bactrim are typically reserved for the second and third trimester and not recommended for the first.
Birth Control And Education
Family planning, as well as the availability and use of contraception, along with increased comprehensive sex education, has enabled many to prevent pregnancies when they are not desired. Schemes and funding to support education and the means to prevent pregnancies when they are not intended have been instrumental and are part of the third of the Sustainable Development Goals advanced by the United Nations.
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Common Uti Symptoms In Pregnant Women
While mildly painful urination during pregnancy can often mean a yeast infection, not a UTI, its always best to see your healthcare provider if you experience any symptoms, says Heather Bartos, MD, an ob-gyn in Cross Roads, Texas. After all, research suggests that about 18 percent of UTIs that occur during pregnancy are symptomatic UTIs, meaning the telltale UTI signs and symptoms are present:
- Strong and frequent urge to use the bathroom
- Burning while urinating
- Foul-smelling urine
- Pelvic pain, usually in the center of the pelvis
In pregnancy, women are also more susceptible to asymptomatic UTIs, meaning you have significant bacteria in your urine but your urinary tract is free of signs and symptoms. Experiencing no symptoms, however, does not mean that asymptomatic UTIs are benign. An asymptomatic UTI can lead to a symptomatic UTI or even a kidney infection, says Dr. Bartos. In fact, research shows that if asymptomatic UTIs are left untreated, 30 percent of pregnant women will go on to develop a symptomatic UTI, and half of those women will eventually be diagnosed with acute pyelonephritis . Up to 23 percent will have a kidney infection recurrence during the same pregnancy. Its important to note that classic UTI signs, like frequent and painful urination, may or may not occur with a kidney infection. Here, some signs to look out for:
What To Do If You Get A Uti
If there are reasonable grounds to believe you might have a UTI during pregnancy your GP will test your urine and, if certain bacteria show up, will prescribe you a course of antibiotics these will be safe for you and your unborn child. Once you are taking the medication, symptoms should subside after three days or so. However, its important that you finish the course as prescribed.
In cases of the most acute infection, it may be necessary to receive a course of intravenous antibiotics and you may need to go into hospital for a short while.
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How Belly Bands Can Help You During Pregnancy
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Pregnancy is supposed to be a time of joy and happiness, but it often comes with unexpected challenges. Many women experience morning sickness, backaches, constipation, breakouts, and everything in between during the nine-month term. While it’s possible to minimize the appearance of pregnancy acne or stretch marks, back pain is a whole different ball game.
This problem affects up to 60% of moms-to-be, including those who didn’t have back issues before getting pregnant. In some cases, it can persist for months or even years after childbirth, according to clinical research published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine. Moreover, its symptoms can be so severe that you may have trouble sleeping, working, or even moving around.
One way to manage your back pain during pregnancy is to wear belly bands. These garments support the core and lower back muscles, making it easier to stay active. You may also use them after giving birth to speed up postpartum recovery. “A belly band can help provide some stability. Sometimes, they can help you feel more supported or help you with your posture,” said OB-GYN Erica Newlin, MD .
However, not all belly bands are created equal and what works for one pregnant person may not work for another. With that in mind, here’s what you should know about these supportive garments and how to choose the one that best meets your needs.
Good Practices During Sex
Urinate before and after sex, and cleanse your genital area with water. This will help keep genital bacteria at bay. Use a lubricant or lubricated condoms while having sex to reduce excess friction, which can lead to micro-tears and trauma. Avoid using spermicides and lubricated condoms that contain spermicides.
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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.
- Poor hygiene. The Simple act of wiping your genital area, when not done properly can lead to UTI because bacteria can travel from the rectum to the urethra.
- Urinary tract problems such as abnormalities or previous surgery.
Other Ways To Prevent Cystitis Coming Back
If you keep getting cystitis, there is some evidence you may find it helpful to take:
- D-mannose a sugar you can buy as a powder or tablets to take every day
- cranberry products available as juice, tablets or capsules to take every day
Be aware that D-mannose and cranberry products can contain a lot of sugar. If youre taking warfarin, you should avoid cranberry products.
Page last reviewed: 11 February 2022 Next review due: 11 February 2025
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Are Utis Common In Early Pregnancy
Although pregnant women have an increased chance of getting UTIs, the infection can appear at any time. However, it is best if treated in the first trimester or as soon as possible. If left untreated, the infection can develop complications that will put your health at risk.
Hormones are one of the reasons why you develop a UTI during pregnancy. They will cause significant changes in the urinary tract and can also lead to a condition where your pee flows back up to your kidneys.
Your pee also has more sugar and protein when pregnant, increasing the risk of a UTI. The uterus presses on your bladder, making it hard for you to let out all of the urine, which can also be a source of infection.
Antibiotics That Are Not Safe For Uti During The First Trimester
Some common antibiotics used to treat UTIs can be a problem during pregnancy. Both nitrofurantoin and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole have been linked to birth defects if taken during the first trimester, when the babys internal organs are in an early stage of development. They can be used safely later in pregnancy, however, and are often the most effective options during this time.
If you develop a UTI while you are pregnant, make sure your provider is aware of your pregnancy. Ask specifically about risks to your baby when you fill any prescription for medication.
Causes Of Urinary Tract Infection
UTI mainly occurs due to the following reasons:
- Cystitis: It is one of the most common causes of UTI. It mainly happens due to sexual intercourse when the harmful bacteria from the gastrointestinal tract cause infection in the bladder. Though, sometimes, females can also develop cystitis without having intercourse.
- Urethritis: When the harmful bacteria are pushed back in the urethra, urethritis occurs.
- Traces of blood with urine.
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How To Prevent A Uti During Pregnancy
It may be inevitable, but experts say there are a few things you can do to at least lower your risk of developing a UTI in pregnancy:
- Drink plenty of water
- Wipe from front to back
- Empty your bladder after sex
Its also crucial to seek medical care if and when you need it. If you have any concern that you may have a UTI, please call your doctor, says Quimper. Is it possible you just have to pee all the time because youre pregnant? Sure. But if youre experiencing discomfort, its always better to play it safe.
About the experts:
Kjersti Aagaard, MD, a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Childrens Hospital. She received her medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and her masters in science from the University of Utah.
Alexandra Bratschie, CNM, certified nurse midwife and womens health nurse practitioner at Womens Health at Valley View in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
Nancy Phillips, MD, director of the Center for Vulvar and Vaginal Health at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey. She received her medical degree from the Robert Wood Medical School in Piscataway, New Jersey.
Megan Quimper, MD, an ob-gyn and assistant professor at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. She received her medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
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Preventing Uti In Pregnancy
Thanks to the anatomy of pregnancy, some UTIs are unpreventable. That being said, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of developing one. Heres how to do that:
- Stay hydrated by drinking six to eight glasses of water a day. You can also drink unsweetened cranberry juice, which helps to prevent UTIs.
- Wear loose-fitting clothes and underwear cotton is better.
- Avoid using strong soaps or douches around your vulva.
- Peeing after sex.
- Avoid overly processed foods, caffeine, and added sugar.
- Wipe front to back and use the blot dry method instead of rubbing.
- Take Vitamin C, Zinc, and Beta Carotene to avoid infection.
- Pee as soon as you get the urge to, and go until your bladder feels empty.
Even if you do everything right, sometimes UTIs are out of your control, especially during pregnancy. Thats why its important to know how to treat them, and when to call a doctor.
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.
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Start Of Gestational Age
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend the following methods to calculate gestational age:
- Directly calculating the days since the beginning of the last menstrual period.
- Early obstetric ultrasound, comparing the size of an embryo or fetus to that of a reference group of pregnancies of known gestational age , and using the mean gestational age of other embryos or fetuses of the same size. If the gestational age as calculated from an early ultrasound is contradictory to the one calculated directly from the last menstrual period, it is still the one from the early ultrasound that is used for the rest of the pregnancy.
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