Urinary tract infections during pregnancy represent another problem that the mother-to-be might be confronted with, because the risk of such an infection is high while pregnant. Urinary tract infections can affect the urethra (through which urine is eliminated), the urinary bladder (where urine is collected), the ureters (the tubes that transport the urine from the kidneys to the urinary bladder), or even the kidneys (where urine is produced).
Urinary tract infections are caused by a bacterium which affects the urethra, reaches and multiplies in the bladder. Sometimes, if the symptoms are not treated, the bacterium spreads to the kidneys, causing more severe problems for the pregnant woman. When kidneys are infected, the risks become even higher than in the case of urinary bladder infection – the infection can be transmitted through blood, thus causing real trouble, for both the mother and foetus (low weight at birth, premature labour, death of the foetus, as well as severe damage of the mother’s kidneys). Therefore, monitoring and paying attention to possible symptoms, as well as performing regular urine tests during pregnancy are essential.
Urinary tract infections during pregnancy – symptoms:
The risk of having a urinary tract infection during pregnancy is not, generally, higher than in normal cases. However, the spread of the infection into the kidneys seems to be more likely for pregnant women – which is why possible symptoms of such an infection or regular urine tests must never be underestimated.
In case of the urinary bladder, the symptoms are widely known (the infection is well-known under the name of cystitis, which affects a large number of women, regardless of the fact that they are pregnant or not):
The frequent need to urinate, even soon after urination or even if the bladder is empty;
The burning sensation during urinating, as well as pain and itchiness;
Discomfort and burning sensation or itchiness during sexual contact;
Pain in the lower abdomen;
Malodorous and dark-coloured urine (rarely, blood can also be found in urine);
In rare cases, fever.
The problem is that the most obvious reason – extremely frequent urination – is also a normal symptom of pregnancy, which is why it is possible that you do not think of an infection. However, even at the slight feeling of discomfort, especially burning sensations during urination, it is advisable to do a urine test as quickly as possible. In addition to this, you should establish a schedule concerning regular urine tests, because sometimes the symptoms can be very light, unnoticeable or even non-existing – bacteria can exist in the urine, but without causing symptoms.
When the bladder infection spreads and affects the kidneys, the risks are higher for both mother and child. The symptoms of kidney infection, besides the ones stated above, for cystitis, are:
Abdominal pain, pain in the lower back and under your ribs;
Fever and shivers;
Anytime you suspect a urinary tract infection during pregnancy, go to the doctor.
Urinary tract infection during pregnancy – measures and treatment:
As previously mentioned, the risk of having such an infection is not higher for a pregnant woman – but caution is necessary, due to the risks of the infection spreading to the kidneys. The following prevention measures are recommended:
Urinate as frequently as you need, so never delay or hold it back;
Wash your intimate parts daily with intimate shower gel; use only special products for this area, not soap or regular shower gels; take more showers than baths and avoid the use of bubble bath gels;
Change your underwear regularly and use comfortable underpants made of cotton that are not too tight and allow your skin to breathe;
Hydrate yourself daily, as much as you need;
Always wipe from front to the back when using the toilet, in order to avoid the spread of bacteria;
Wash your intimate parts before and after having sex;
Soon after getting pregnant, do the urine test that verifies the existence of bacterium into urine (as previously mentioned, you can have the bacterium without the symptoms); if the bacterium is identified, you will follow a treatment with oral antibiotics and, then, you will have regular tests in order to make sure that the infection is gone; if the bacterium was not found, the risk of having an infection during pregnancy is rather low;
Set a schedule with your doctor that will recommend having regular urine tests throughout your pregnancy. Anytime you suspect a possible urinary tract infection, ask for a urine test, no matter if the symptoms are light.
In what concerns urinary tract infections, treatment during pregnancy involve oral administration of antibiotics over a certain amount of time (7 to 10 days, even if the symptoms disappear for 2-3 days) and regular administration of urine tests. In case the infection has spread to the kidneys, hospitalization is generally needed, including constant monitoring and following an IV therapy with antibiotics. A simple kidney infection requires only one day at the hospital, in order for doctors to do a series of tests and check the foetus’ state – if the risks are low, treatment can be continued at home, with oral antibiotics. In severe cases, you will remain in the hospital for a long time, followed by a special treatment consisting of a small dosage of antibiotics that will prevent another infection during the rest of your pregnancy.