According to experts 10% of expectant mothers will get a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point during their pregnancies. However if UTI is caught early, it is easy to treat with antibiotics. Left untreated about 25% of asymptomatic UTIs develop into kidney infection, which can be potentially life-threatening for the mother and baby
What is a UTI?
Your urinary tract system encompasses your urethra, bladder, urethras (the tubes between the kidneys and bladder) and kidneys. An infection occurs when bacteria gets into the system and multiplies.
What causes UTIs during pregnancy?
Higher levels of the hormone, progesterone, decrease the muscle tone of the urethras, causing them to dilate and slowing the flow of urine. Your enlarged uterus can prevent you from emptying your bladder completely when you urinate and this leaves a pool of urine in which bacteria can multiply.
What are the symptoms of UTIs?
Some pregnant women do not experience any symptoms at all; they have what’s called asymptomatic UTIs. If you have a symptomatic UTI, you might experience these symptoms:
- A sudden urge to urinate
- Pain or a burning sensation with urination
- Foul –smelling , cloudy or bloody urine
- Pain in the public bone area
Complications in pregnancy
If left untreated UTI may develop into kidney infections can harm your unborn baby and lead to low birth weight and early labour. However if treated early it should not cause any harm.
Most UTIs are easy to treat, even when you are pregnant. Any obstetrician will know which antibiotics to avoid, and the choice of antibiotic depends on women’s allergies and what trimester of pregnancy she is in.
There is no foolproof way to prevent urinary tract infection but there are preventive measures that help minimise your chances of getting one.
- Practice good hygiene. Wipe from front to back after you urinate to prevent the spreading of bacteria
- Urinating is an effective way of clearing germs from the bladder and urethra, so make sure you drink plenty of water.
- Urinate frequently go when you feel the urge to go, and spend the extra few minutes to be sure you have emptied your bladder completely.