UTI in Pregnancy
If you’re reading this, you’re most likely pregnant, so first off – congratulations! You also are most likely experiencing one of the most uncomfortable sensations known to humans, a urinary tract infection. For that, we’re sorry.
Pregnancy comes with all sorts of changes, many of which can be incredibly uncomfortable. Back pain, gas, peeing all the time, and now – pain while peeing. That’s enough to make you want to sleep through the next few months while your baby finishes cooking.
There’s no beating around the bush, urinary tract infection in pregnancy sucks. Do you have an inkling that you’ve been tinkling too much and may have a urinary tract infection? Let’s take a look at the symptoms of UTIs in pregnancy, preventing them, and treating them.
Symptoms of UTI in Pregnancy
You probably know what a UTI feels like, but do you know what it is exactly? A UTI is a bladder infection that occurs from bacterial inflammation in the urinary tract.
Here are some UTI symptoms in pregnancy:
- Peeing more often than usual.
- A feeling of urgency when you pee.
- Pain, burning sensation, or discomfort while urinating.
- Pain during sex.
- Incontinence, or leaking urine.
- Changes in the amount of urine, either more or less.
You might be thinking that many of these symptoms are just a part of being pregnant, and you’re right. This is why it’s important to monitor your symptoms, suspect that you have a serious infection and when to call a doctor.
Are UTIs More Common in Pregnancy?
Does it seem like UTIs are more common during pregnancy? That’s because they are! People who are between 6 to 24 weeks pregnant are at an increased risk of developing a UTI due to changes in anatomy, specifically the bladder. The uterus, which is your baby’s home and growing day by day, sits directly on top of the bladder, hence why you have to pee so often. As the uterus continues to grow, its increased weight can block the drainage of urine from the bladder, which can lead to UTIs.
UTIs are always important to treat. If they move up the reproductive tract they can potentially cause a kidney infection, which can be life-threatening. Kidney infections in pregnant people can potentially cause preterm labor and low birth weight in the baby. When treated early and properly, UTIs do not cause harm to the baby.
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. Here’s 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. That’s why it’s important to know how to treat them, and when to call a doctor.
Treating UTI in Pregnancy (And When to Call a Doctor!)
While there are natural remedies that can help treat UTIs, during pregnancy it’s best to reach out to a doctor straight away to prevent the risk of developing a kidney infection. Your healthcare provider will evaluate your symptoms and perform a urinalysis or urine culture to determine if you have a UTI.
Since Urinary tract infections are bacterial infections, the most effective treatment is typically antibiotics. Although it might seem scary to take a new medication during pregnancy, antibiotics are safe to take while pregnant. Your provider will make sure that the ones they prescribe are ok for pregnant people to take. You will most likely be prescribed a course of antibiotic treatment for three to seven days.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to call a healthcare provider or go to urgent care as soon as possible:
- Blood or mucus in your urine.
- Pain or cramps in your lower abdomen.
- Chills, fever, and sweats.
- Cloud or foul-smelling urine.
- Pressure, pain, or tenderness around your bladder.
- Back pain.
- Nausea or vomiting.
These are all signs of a kidney infection and need to be treated as soon as possible. If you’re still experiencing symptoms of a UTI after three days of being on antibiotics, it’s time to give your doctor a call again. Again, it can be scary to experience new or uncomfortable symptoms while pregnant. Your first thought is probably “Will my baby be ok?” Luckily, UTIs are generally harmless when treated in a timely manner, albeit uncomfortable. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider, and good luck!
Natasha (she/they) is a full spectrum doula, reproductive health content creator, and sexual wellness consultant. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more pleasure, softness, and sensuality. You can connect with Natasha on IG @spectrumoflovedoula.