UTIs During Pregnancy: The Risks, Symptoms, and Prevention Tips

UTIs or urinary tract infections are one of the more common pregnancy ailments. About 1 in 10 pregnancies are impacted by at least one UTI. The hardest part about UTIs in pregnancy is that some can be invisible, which is why care providers usually do at least one urinalysis during pregnancy and may have you pee on a test strip a few more times throughout care.

The Risks

Unfortunately, getting a UTI in pregnancy can have very negative impacts on pregnancy and childbirth. Research shows that UTIs can cause preterm delivery, low birth weight, pre-eclampsia, and, in some circumstances, even fetal loss. The range at which a pregnant individual might experience a UTI can be from asymptomatic or symptomatic acute to more severe, called pyelonephritis.

Due to the change in hormones, some individuals might find themselves experiencing reoccurring UTIs throughout their pregnancy. If a pregnant person is experiencing gestational diabetes or is diabetic, the chances of contracting a UTI go up. Another reason that pregnant individuals are so susceptible to UTIs is their inability to empty their bladder. Some ways to combat this are lifting your belly while you urinate and not holding your bladder for long periods. Another common cause is individuals who are sexually active more than 3x a week. This can allow bacteria to move around the genital area and enter the urinary tract.

UTI Symptoms

Some symptoms of a UTI include pain or burning sensation with urination, the urge to urinate more frequently, leaking or incontinence, the urge to urinate even after you just went, cloudy, bloody, or foul-smelling urine, pain in the lower abdomen, fever, and back pain or vomiting if the UTI has moved to the kidneys. As I mentioned above, UTIs in pregnancy can be sneaky and have little or no presentation of symptoms, or the symptoms might mimic pregnancy symptoms like frequent urination. Getting a urinalysis is a good idea if you are suspicious of a UTI.

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Prevention Tips

Some ways of preventing UTIs consist of peeing immediately after penetrative sex, drinking a lot of water, wiping front to back, and avoiding triggering drinks like caffeine and alcohol. 

Treatment Options

Specific treatments for UTIs are not safe during pregnancy, but here are some pregnancy-safe treatment ideas. If you first attempt natural treatment, cranberry juice, upping water intake, and consuming ascorbic acid in foods high in vitamin C. 

If none of the natural options are helping with your UTI, it is an excellent time to consider antibiotics. With all of the risks associated with UTI, I feel that antibiotics are something to be considered from day one of a UTI as they can escalate quickly and cause quite a few pregnancy and birth complications.

Although a semi-common thing to experience in pregnancy, UTIs should not be taken lightly. If you are suspicious of a possible UTI, getting a urinalysis is always a good idea to ensure that it is not what you are experiencing. Whenever considering treatment options, it is essential to weigh out the risks versus benefits of each in comparison. This thinking will help you make the best possible decision for you and your baby.

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