Urinary Tract Infection in Pregnancy
Pregnancy – it’s supposed to be one of the most magical experiences a woman can go through. The reality might leave you feeling a little differently though!
Throughout your pregnancy you may experience a wide variety of different complications, symptoms, upsets, aches and pains as your body adapts to your growing baby and the demands needed to keep them nice and healthy!
One such complication you might experience is a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Not all women will experience this but it is pretty common – one of the most common complaints from pregnant women in fact!
What is a UTI?
A UTI can occur at any time during your pregnancy, so it’s worth knowing what it is and why it happens.
As mentioned, your body will go through many changes as your body adapts to your baby. Anatomically speaking, the uterus is located above the bladder in the body. As your pregnancy progresses and your baby grows bigger, the uterus expands too which compresses the bladder.
Many women experience this as needing to go to the toilet more frequently, but it can also cause the urinary tract – the way in which urine is released from the bladder – to become blocked.
If this happens, urine can get stuck in the urinary tract, which can cause bacteria to build up. The most common bacteria in this case is Escheria Coli (more commonly known as E.Coli). If left untreated this can lead to an infection in the urinary tract.
What are the symptoms of a UTI?
It’s really important to keep an eye out for the beginning symptoms of a UTI so you can make sure you seek appropriate treatment early on. The longer the infection goes untreated, the more problems it can cause for you and your baby.
Early symptoms include:
· A burning sensation when you urinate
· Discomfort, or slight pain when you urinate
· Feeling the need to urinate but being unable to when you do go to the toilet
· Very dark coloured urine when you do urinate
Later symptoms include:
· A high fever or temperature
· A pain or ache in the abdomen
· Inability to go to the toilet, even though you feel like you need to
· Pain in the kidneys (located in your lower back)
· Signs of blood, or blood-like fluid in your urine
Types of Urinary Tract Infections
The table below summarizes the different types of UTIs in order of increasing severity:
|Types of UTIs||Asymptomatic||Cystitis
|Common Symptoms||No signs or symptoms||Urgency to urinate, frequency, burning sensation||Very high fever, nausea/vomiting, severe pain, loss of appetite
|Diagnosis||Found in routine lab tests showing raised levels of bacteria.||A urine culture shows raised levels of bacteria
|A urine culture shows raised levels of bacteria.|
|Treatment||Treated with oral antibiotics, prescribed by your doctor.||Treated with oral antibiotics, prescribed by your doctor
|Requires hospital admission and treated with IV antibiotics, hydration, tocolysis (to delay labour if needed), prescribed by your doctor.|
What can I do help prevent UTIs?
A UTI can be very uncomfortable if you do experience one, that’s why it’s so important to stay aware about your body and look out for early symptoms.
Some of the ways you can help to try and prevent a UTI include:
Drinking plenty of fresh, clean water
Taking part in light exercise to keep the body active and healthy
Always wipe from front to back after going to the toilet
Don’t hold it when you do feel like you need to go to the toilet
Is a UTI infectious?
A UTI is a bacterial infection, not a virus, so it cannot be passed on to others, including your baby and your partner.
If left untreated, the infection can spread and even enter the bloodstream and this is when it can start to cause real problems for you and your baby. Never ignore the symptoms of a UTI – make sure you speak to your doctor who can advise of the best course of treatment.
UTIs are also known to be caused from sexual intercourse, for similar reasons to the above. Intercourse can cause the uterus to push against the urinary tract and this can cause a temporary blockage resulting in bacteria spreading.
What should I do if I have a UTI?
Make sure you speak to your doctor immediately who can provide you with the best advice and guidance to help clear the infection as quickly as possible.
You may be prescribed anti-biotics and your doctor will be able to advise the best course for you to make sure you and your baby remain completely safe.
Even if you are only noticing the early signs of a UTI, it’s always worth mentioning it to your doctor or midwife so they can help you and make sure it does not progress into a more serious infection.