UTIs during pregnancy

Urinary Tract Infections or UTIs are infections that occur when non local bacteria enter the urinary tract. UTIs are more common among women than men, since bacteria can reach the urinary tract more easily in women because the vagina, rectal area and urethra are close.

UTIs are not limited to the bladder as most people may believe; it can occur in any part of the urinary tract, i.e., the kidneys, ureters, and the urethra.   

Common symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections include –

  • Pain or burning sensation during urination

  • Frequent urination or a feeling or urgency while urinating

  • Cloudy, foul smelling or unusually strong urine

  • A feeling of pressure, pain or tenderness in the bladder region

  • Presence of mucus or blood in the urine

  • Pain or cramps in pelvic or lower back

  • Fever, nausea or vomiting

  • Pain while having sexual intercourse

Are UTIs common during pregnancy?

Yes, Urinary Tract Infections are common during pregnancy though pregnancy itself does not increase the risk of UTIs.

Your bladder loses tone during pregnancy. It becomes more difficult to completely empty your bladder, and it becomes more prone to reflux, a condition where some urine flows back up the ureters toward the kidneys.

The result of these changes is that it takes longer for urine to pass through your urinary tract, giving bacteria more time to multiply before being flushed out, and it also becomes easier for the bacteria to travel up to your kidneys. Also, during pregnancy your urine becomes less acidic and more likely to contain glucose, both of which increase the possibilities of bacterial growth.

Pregnancy does not make it more likely for women to contract UTIs than other women, and in fact pregnant women are more at risk of contracting a kidney infection during a UTI because the bacteria can travel up to the kidney.  

Is a UTI dangerous during pregnancy?

Any infection can be dangerous during pregnancy as it can affect you and your child and even increase the risk of having a premature labor. It becomes more tricky because a pregnant woman cannot have many of the medications that can otherwise be taken to treat infections.

UTIs if left untreated can even cause a permanent damage to your health. For example, Pyelonephritis - commonly known as Kidney Infection, is caused when the bacteria travels from the bladder up through the ureters to kidney, resulting in an infection in one or both the kidneys. If left untreated, it can cause serious health problems and also increase the risk of preterm labor and having an underweight baby. 

During pregnancy, it is important to notice each and every change your body is going through and consult your doctor if you feel that something is not right. Diagnosing the infection in the earlier stages can help prevent serious complications.

How can one prevent a UTI?

You can minimize your chances of acquiring a urinary tract infection during pregnancy by following these steps – 

  • By staying hydrated

  • Avoid douching, using feminine hygiene products and strong soaps that can result in irritating your urethra and genitals as this can aid bacterial growth and cause infection.

  • Cleaning the genital area regularly and urinating before and after indulging in sexual intercourse. Remember to clean from the front to the back and not the other way round.

  • Wearing cotton underwear only

  • Try not to control your bladder for too long and also to empty the bladder completely when urinating. 

These are only a few basic steps to prevent a UTI. For more information and advice, please consult a doctor.

About the Author

WHL Staff

The WHL staff comprises a group of ladies out to give you exhaustive, practical health tips and resources.