I am a Gynaecologist Obstetrician ( MD, DNB OBGYN) with an emphasis on INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE.
Are you pregnant? You must be on cloud nine feeling a blooming life inside you. Pregnancy has its exhilarating moments, like seeing your baby's ultrasound for the first time or hearing their heartbeat at a prenatal appointment. But pregnancy can truly be a roller coaster ride for some of us! From the moment of conception, your body goes through a whirlwind of changes that can leave you feeling like you're on an emotional and physical roller coaster. One moment you may be experiencing the joys of feeling your baby's first kicks, and the next you may be grappling with the discomforts of morning sickness or the challenges of sleepless nights. But, as you adjust to new changes in your body during pregnancy, don’t overlook everyday health conditions, such as - Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). If UTI in pregnancy remains untreated, it can become a serious infection that can lead to preterm labor, premature delivery, or even fetal loss.
A UTI is a bacterial infection of the urinary system. This kind of infection can involve your kidneys, urethra, or bladder. Urine is a byproduct of our filtration system. It occurs when waste products and excess water is removed from the blood. So, under normal circumstances, urine passes through the urinary system without contamination. But sometimes, bacteria can enter the urinary system externally, resulting in infection and inflammation commonly referred to as Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).
When you're pregnant, your urine contains more sugar, protein, and hormones, and your growing uterus puts pressure on your bladder, leading to the retention of some urine. This retention of urine can lead to UTI in pregnancy. However, aside from these changes during pregnancy, UTIs can still occur due to other common causes, such as E. coli and other bacteria from your stool, sexual activity, and group B strep, which is usually present in the colon and vagina of most women.
If pregnant women experience a burning sensation, it can cause redness and irritation of the lining of the bladder and urethra, similar to the effect of a cold on the throat. The level of pain can be so severe that it can result in discomfort in the lower abdomen, pelvic region, or even lower back due to the intense irritation of the bladder.
Additionally, if you experience a more urgent need to urinate than usual or if your urine appears cloudy, dark, or has a strong odor, it may be an indication that you are experiencing a UTI.
Beware: Urine infection during pregnancy should not be ignored, it can cause nausea, vomiting and even fever. A kidney infection should be treated before it gets spread into the bloodstream. What I find really concerning is UTI in pregnancy can turn to pyelonephritis that can lead to preterm labour, premature delivery, or even fetal loss.
Now, suppose all the symptoms are noticeable, then how can you determine if you have a UTI?
Well, in that case, go for a urinalysis and a urine culture test.
Your urinary tract is like a fortress, built to keep out unwanted invaders like bacteria. But sometimes, these pesky microorganisms manage to slip past the gates and cause a UTI. Being a woman and Gynaecologist, both I can understand that UTI infection in pregnancy is no fun experience, but knowing the risk factors can help you take steps to prevent these infections from taking hold.
So, let’s look at the common causes of urinary infection during pregnancy:
During labour, increased risk of bacteria entering the urinary tract: During labour, there is an increased risk of bacteria entering the urinary tract. After giving birth, a woman may experience bladder sensitivity and swelling, which can make a UTI more likely.
Another risk factor is being sexually active. When things heat up in the bedroom, bacteria can get stirred up and move into the urinary tract. So, make sure to pee after sex to help flush out any unwanted bacteria.
If you struggle with weak pelvic floor muscles, then you may not be able to fully empty your bladder. This can create a cosy environment for bacteria to multiply and cause an infection. Doing pelvic floor exercises can help strengthen those muscles and reduce your risk of developing a UTI.
Finally, if you have diabetes during pregnancy, you may be at increased risk of developing UTIs. The high levels of sugar in your urine can provide a feast for bacteria, so it's important to keep your blood sugar levels under control.
By knowing these risk factors and taking steps to reduce your chances of developing a UTI, you can help keep your urinary tract healthy and happy.
UTI can affect your kidneys severely and if you’re pregnant, the stakes are even higher, check them out:
Severe infection: Again, it can cause a severe infection that can make you really sick. In some cases, hospitalisation may become necessary to treat the infection and prevent it from spreading.
Adult respiratory distress syndrome: This is a serious complication that makes it difficult to breathe. It’s a rare, but potentially life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention.
Anemia: In this condition, your body doesn't have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to your organs. This can make you feel weak and tired, and can also be dangerous for your baby.
Long-term infection: It can cause permanent damage to your kidneys. This can have serious consequences for your health and your baby's health. If left untreated, UTI can turn into a long-term infection.
So, as I have mentioned before, as the UTI goes untreated, it may lead to kidney infection. This can result into:
1. Early labour or low birth weight
2. Cause a fever in babies
3. Developmental delays
Your health provider may perform tests to determine if your baby has a UTI and may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. With prompt treatment, most babies recover fully from UTIs without any complications.
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A lot of problems, symptoms and causes related to UTI have been talked about, and now the question is how can we prevent it during pregnancy? Well! Here are the tips and tricks:
1. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps flush bacteria out of your urinary system.
2. Urinate frequently: Don't hold your urine for long periods of time. Urinate as soon as you feel the need.
3. Wipe from front to back: After using the bathroom, always wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to the urethra.
4. Wear cotton underwear: Cotton allows air to circulate and helps keep the area dry, making it less hospitable to bacteria.
5. Avoid irritating feminine products: Avoid using feminine products that can irritate the urethra, such as douches, powders, and sprays.
6. Urinate after sex: Urinating after sex helps flush away bacteria that may have entered the urethra during intercourse.
7. Detoxification: Now this cannot be done while pregnant but I am a huge fan of preparing your body for a healthy pregnancy with SHE-TO METHOD, where we embrace an alkaline lifestyle and detox your filters and organs of elimination using plant medicine and lifestyle hacks. DOWNLOAD MY GUIDE TO KNOW MORE ON THIS https://www.truhealing.com/page/fit-fab-fertile-guide
Aren’t they simple ways to stay away kidney infections and embrace your pregnancy journey with joy and pleasure, giving no room for anxiety?
Now, let’s explore the various treatment options for UTIs in pregnancy and provide tips for preventing future infections. So, whether you're a first-time mom or a seasoned pro, let's dive in and learn how to keep your urinary tract happy and healthy!
1. Antibiotics: These are usually the first treatment for urinary tract infections. Your health and the type of bacteria found in your urine determine which medicine is used and how long you need to take it.
2. Pain relievers: UTIs can cause pain and discomfort, especially during urination. Your healthcare provider may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help relieve pain.
3. Probiotics: Some research suggests that taking probiotics, especially lactobacillus, may help to prevent recurrent UTIs.
4. Cranberry Juice: Cranberry juice contains compounds called proanthocyanidins that prevents bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract, making it harder for them to cause an infection.
5. Vitamin C: Vitamin C may increase the acidity of urine, making it difficult for bacteria to grow and cause an infection.
6. D-mannose: This supplement may help prevent UTIs by preventing bacteria from sticking to the walls of the urinary tract.
7. Zinc: Zinc may help support the immune system and reduce the risk of developing a UTI.
And again, drinking plenty of water and other fluids helps to flush bacteria out of the urinary tract and helps prevent future infections.
When you are confirmed that have UTI and you are done with home remedies like - drinking plenty of water, cranberry juice, and probiotics, but still there are not many improvements. Then, it’s time to book an appointment with the doctor and get yourself checked.
Here at TruHealing, we provide specialized and safe treatments for UTI in pregnant women. We direct our medical advice and personalized pregnancy care to also address the root cause of the infection and minimise the risk of complications, ensuring a healthy pregnancy and delivery. We have helped hundreds of women heal the kidney weakness and recurrent UTIs before pregnancy so that they can have an easy breezy pregnancy and the healthiest possible baby.
Originally published April 24, 2023