Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy – Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Written by MomJunction • 

While you are pregnant, there is always the risk of contracting some infection, especially as your immunity is at an all-time low. Worrying about an infection that you may be prone to, can lead to anxiety, which is not recommended for the sake of you and your baby’s health.

One common infection that most women often contract while they are pregnant is urinary tract infection. If you would like to know more about urinary tract infection during pregnancy and how to avoid or treat the same, keep reading.

What Is A Urinary Tract Infection?

A urinary tract infection or UTI is an infection of the bladder. It occurs when a type of bacterial infection affects your urinary tract through which your urine passes and then gradually exits your body. The path follows various organs like the kidneys, the bladder, the ureters or the urethra. The higher your urinary tract infection is located in your urinary tract, the more serious it will be. Here is a quick look at what these organs help your body with:

1. Kidneys:

Your kidneys are small organs on each side of your spinal cord. They are around your waist and are critical to removing waste from your body. As long as your kidneys function properly, your body will be able to remove all the excess waste in the form of urine. It also helps to keep your blood pressure levels in check.

2. Bladder:

The bladder is a small organ that is shaped like a sack. It helps to collect the urine from your body and store it. After your bladder stores a certain amount of urine, it sends out a signal that makes you feel the urge to urinate. When you get ready to urinate, you can contract the muscles that line your bladder that helps to eliminate the urine from your body.

3. Ureters:

You have two ureters in your body that look like narrow tubes and are about ten inches long. The ureters help flush out the urine from each of your kidneys and into your bladder.

4. Urethra:

The urethra is a small tube that helps to connect your bladder with the other parts of your body.

[ Read: Kidney Infection During Pregnancy ]

Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy:

While you are pregnant, you are at a higher risk of contracting urinary tract infection especially during the 6th and 24th week of pregnancy. During your pregnancy, your urinary tract goes through a lot of changes due to the many changes that your body goes through overall.

Your uterus is located right on top of your bladder. As your pregnancy progresses, your uterus keeps growing, and it grows heavy. When you are pregnant, your body releases a higher amount of the hormone progesterone. It reduces the muscle tone of your ureters and dilates them. As a result, it becomes more difficult for your urine to flow through. The growing weight of your uterus can stop the urine from passing through the bladder, which can lead to UTI infection during pregnancy.

Also, while you are pregnant, there is a loss of muscle tone in your bladder, because of which your bladder is not able to empty itself. It means that almost, every time you want to pass urine, there is some amount of urine that is still left behind in the bladder. Also, while you are pregnant, you are at a higher risk of suffering from a condition known as reflux. The condition leads to some amount of urine flowing back upwards through the urethra and to your kidneys, instead of flowing out and exiting your body.

As a result of all of the above, it is difficult for your body to flush the urine out of the system. The situation is ideal for bacteria, which get more time to thrive and infect these parts. If you suffer from reflux, it makes it easier for the bacteria to move up towards your kidney. Also, while you are pregnant, your urine turns less acidic than it otherwise is, as it contains more glucose, which also helps bacteria thrive (1).

[ Read: Bladder Infections During Pregnancy ]

Causes And Types Of Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy:

You can get a urinary tract infection from the bacteria that are present on your skin, in your rectum or your vagina. These bacteria enter your urethra, before moving upwards. Here are some types of urinary tract infection, or UTI, that you can contract during your pregnancy:

1. Cystitis Or Bladder Infection:

  • Sometimes, the bacteria can get lodged in your bladder where it gets the chance to strive and grow. As a result, you will experience inflammation and other signs and symptoms that are common to a urinary tract infection.
  • Cystitis or bladder infection is mostly common when you are sexually active and are in the age group of 20 to 50.

2. Kidney Infection:

  • Sometimes, the bacteria can also travel from your bladder and upwards towards your ureters, where it can infect either one or both of your kidneys.
  • One of the most common types of a kidney infection that you may experience while you are pregnant is known as pyelonephritis. It is one of the most common as well as one of the most serious types of medical complication that can happen while you are pregnant.Recommended Articles:
  • In case of pyelonephritis, the infection can often affect your blood stream and have serious life-threatening complications.
  • A kidney infection can also have health risks for your unborn baby. It can put you at a higher risk for a preterm birth as well as cause low birth weight in your unborn baby. In many cases, a kidney infection can also cause an increase in the risk of fetal or newborn death.

3. Asymptomatic Bacteriuria:

  • Sometimes, you may have bacteria present in your urinary tract but may not be able to see or experience any symptoms. Such a condition is also known as asymptomatic bacteriuria.
  • When you experience asymptomatic bacteriuria while you are pregnant, it will often get resolved without causing any symptoms or complications.
  • Sometimes though, if left untreated, asymptomatic bacteriuria can put you at a higher risk of contracting a kidney infection. In case it does happen, you will almost always be at a higher risk of having a pre-term birth or your unborn baby may have low birth weight. It is extremely important that you get your urine samples regularly checked while you are pregnant (2).

[ Read: Ease Frequent Urination During Pregnancy ]

Symptoms Of A Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy:

If you suspect you have urinary tract infection while you are pregnant, make sure you speak to your doctor about it. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of a urinary tract infection, or UTIs in pregnancy:

  • You will feel a pain, a burning sensation or some other sort of discomfort while you urinate or when you feel the pressure to urinate.
  • You will want to urinate more often than you normally do, even though sometimes, the amount that you urinate will hardly be of any significance.
  • Each time that you want to urinate, you will feel the sensation almost as an emergency, and will almost always want to urinate urgently.
  • You may notice traces of blood or mucus when you pass urine.
  • There can be a kind of pain, some tenderness or even pressure around your bladder area.
  • The need to urinate will be so urgent and frequent that you will frequently have to wake up in the middle of the night to urinate.
  • The urine will appear cloudy and may also have a strong and sometimes extremely foul smell.
  • Along with the number of times that you need to urinate, you may also have additional symptoms such as fever, chills, heavy sweating and urinary incontinence, when you will not be able to hold in the urine and may pass some without control.
  • You will also experience severe pain in your lower abdomen. In case the infection has spread and is more serious, you will also experience severe pain your lower back.
  • You will feel pain while having sexual intercourse.

[ Read: E-Coli Infection During Pregnancy ]

Treating A Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy:

When you are pregnant, your doctor will advise the following ways for the treatment of UTI in pregnancy:

  • Your doctor will suggest a course of antibiotics to contain the infection from spreading and treat the same.
  • UTI in pregnancy treatment depends on the severity of your infection and your overall health, your doctor will prescribe you medications for about three to seven days.
  • In most cases, the symptoms of your urinary tract infection will begin to fade out in three days of taking the antibiotics. Even though you may feel you are getting better, you should not stop taking your antibiotics before you finish the course that your doctor has suggested. Most antibiotics that your doctor will suggest you during UTI treatment in pregnancy will be safe to be consumed, so do not worry (3).

1. In Case Of A Bladder Infection:

  • Your doctor will put you on a course of antibiotics for UTI during pregnancy for few days.
  • Once the UTI pregnancy treatment course is over, your doctor will schedule regular checkups and tests to make sure that there is no further risk of an infection.
  • In case you do get a bladder infection again, your doctor may give you a low dose of antibiotics.

2. In Case Of A Kidney Infection:

  • In case of a kidney infection, your doctor will suggest hospitalization and may also start you on IV antibiotics.
  • You will also be monitored to check for any signs of distress in your unborn baby.

[ Read: Protein In Urine During Pregnancy ]

Preventing A Urinary Tract Infection During Pregnancy:

While there is no sure shot way of preventing a urinary tract infections in pregnancy, there are a few tips that you can follow to reduce your chances of contracting one. Try the following steps to reduce your risk of getting a urinary tract infection:

  1. Make sure that you are properly hydrated and drink at least eight to ten glasses of water in a day.
  1. Make sure you use the bathroom each time you want to urinate and do not hold back your urine. While you are urinating, also try and empty your bladder completely.
  1. Whenever you pass stools, use a paper towel to clean yourself from the front area to the back and never from the back area to the front. Cleaning from the front area to the back instead of the other way round will make sure that you prevent the bacteria in your stool from coming near your urethra.
  1. Always clean your genital area and ensure that it is dry, as bacteria thrive in moist areas. You can use regular water and mild soap to clean your genitals every time you visit the washroom.
  1. Before you have sexual intercourse and after you have it, always clean your genitals area with regular water and mild soap.
  1. Avoid using any strong or heavily scented soap to clean your genital area especially when you are pregnant. A strong or heavily scented can cause irritation in your urethra and your genital area, and can create the perfect place for bacteria to thrive in.
  1. Drink a glass of cranberry juice every day to avoid or reduce your chances of getting a urinary tract infection. Before you do so, do make sure that you also check with your doctor about the same. Cranberry juice can bring down a number of bacteria that you have in your body and can also prevent new bacteria from entering or growing in your urinary tract. However, drinking cranberry juice will only work as a deterrent and as a preventive measure in case of a urinary tract infection. If you already have urinary tract infection, drinking cranberry juice will not help you rid the infection.

The moment you experience the symptoms of a urinary tract infection, consult your doctor. You would want to avoid any nasty complications.

So moms, did you also suffer from urinary tract infection while you were pregnant? What line of treatment did you follow? How long did it take for you to recover? Tell us about it here. Leave a comment below.

[ Read: How To Avoid Infections During Pregnancy ]

Recommended Articles:

Was this article helpful?

    Latest Articles