UTIs during pregnancy: Your guide to risks, treatment, and prevention
The last thing you need while you’re literally growing a human inside you is a urinary tract infection. But did you know over 30% of women will experience a UTI during pregnancy?
Women are already more prone to UTIs than men for a number of reasons. Add pregnancy to the equation and you’ve got a new list of factors that make your urinary tract a bacterial bullseye. That’s why it’s so important for women to get regular urine tests throughout pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.
What else can you do to prevent UTIs during pregnancy? And why are UTIs so common for pregnant women in the first place? All your Qs are about to be answered.
What’s a urinary tract infection?
Your urinary tract is amazing. It includes your bladder, urethra, ureters, and kidneys—and they all work together to flush toxins, bacteria, and excess fluid out of your body.
A UTI is caused when bacteria finds its way into the urinary tract and manages to stick around. It then multiplies and turns into an infection. Symptoms of a UTI often include:
- A sudden urge to pee (urgency)
- Feeling like you need to pee all the time (frequency)
- A burning sensation when you pee
- Urine looks cloudy/red or smells strange
- Struggling to pee
Ouch. While these symptoms are less than ideal, UTIs are common and can be easily treated with antibiotics. But a UTI can lead to serious health complications if it’s not caught in time—whether you’re pregnant or not.
Why are UTIs common during pregnancy?
So many beautiful changes are happening in your body during pregnancy. But some of these changes can also cause UTIs.
First: hormones. When you’re pregnant, changes in your progesterone and estrogen levels can impact the urinary tract. It can make your bladder and ureters weaker and even cause something called vesicoureteral reflux—a condition where your pee flows upwards to your kidneys.
Next: urine. During pregnancy, your pee is less acidic and has more sugar, protein, and hormones in it. This is somewhat of a perfect storm for UTIs—especially since sugar boosts bacteria growth.
And of course, physical changes. While all this chemical and hormonal business is going down, your body itself is also transforming. Your growing uterus presses down on the bladder and makes it harder to empty. The leftover urine causes bacteria to spread and voila—you’ve got yourself a UTI. Adding to all the compression are your kidneys, which also get bigger during pregnancy.
UTIs after giving birth can also be common, especially for patients who have a C-section or an epidural. Both of these situations require a catheter, which increases the risk of UTI the longer it stays in your body.
What types of UTIs are common during pregnancy and what are their associated symptoms (if any)?
There are 3 main types of UTIs that pregnant women deal with.
- Asymptomatic UTI. As the name suggests, asymptomatic UTIs don’t have any noticeable symptoms. About 7% of pregnant women get this type of UTI—and it has a 25% chance of spreading to your bladder and kidney if left untreated.
- Cystitis—AKA a bladder infection. This is one of the most common types of UTIs for all people, not just pregnant women. Cystitis will cause the typical UTI symptoms, like frequency and urgency, to help alert you that it’s time to take action.
- Pyelonephritis—AKA a kidney infection. About 80-90% of kidney infections in pregnancy happen in the second and third trimesters. Symptoms are the same as cystitis, but can also include nausea, fever, chills, headache, side body pain, or lower back pain.
Are UTIs dangerous during pregnancy?
They can be. The good news is, simply having a UTI will not harm you or the baby. And if a UTI is caught early, it’s incredibly easy and safe to treat. The danger only arises when a UTI is left untreated.
Once a UTI reaches the kidney, it can lead to serious complications for pregnant women, including:
- Sepsis (a potentially life-threatening blood infection)
- Premature labour
- Adult respiratory distress syndrome
- Long-term infection
- Low birth weight
How can pregnant women treat a UTI?
Antibiotics are the most common, safe, and effective way to treat a UTI during pregnancy. Your doctor will typically prescribe about 3 to 10 days' worth of oral antibiotics and your symptoms should start to subside within the first few days of treatment.
If you have a kidney infection, you’ll likely have to do your antibiotics treatment through a hospital IV.
Pro tip: Always finish your entire course of antibiotics. If not, it could lead to antibiotic resistance—which makes future UTIs way harder to treat.
How can UTIs be prevented?
First things first: Urine testing should always be a part of your prenatal care. 41% of UTIs are diagnosed during the first trimester, and a good amount of them are asymptomatic.
That’s why your doctor will want to check for infection-causing bacteria hiding in your pee. For long-term prevention, make urinalysis a regular occurrence throughout your entire pregnancy.
Apart from urine testing, there are so many ways to help prevent UTIs during pregnancy and beyond:
- Wipe front to back after going to the bathroom
- Pee before and after sex
- Avoid overly tight pants or underwear
- Don’t sit in wet clothing for too long
- Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day (the more you pee, the more bacteria will naturally flow out of your system)
Most of all, take a high-quality UTI prevention supplement, like Utiva Cranberry PACs
Proanthocyanidins, or PACs for short, are active molecules found in cranberries. They have anti-adhesion superpowers, which can stop harmful bacteria from sticking to your bladder and causing infection.
Utiva Cranberry PACs has 9x more PACs than most cranberry pills, so one dose per day is all you need to keep infections away. That’s why 96% of Utiva consumers are UTI-free for at least 6 to 18 months. And the longer they take Utiva, the more benefits they experience: fewer UTIs, symptom relief, reduced antibiotic use, and a significantly improved quality of life.
Utiva Cranberry PACs has also been recognized by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC). That means it has been carefully reviewed by a panel of medical professionals to confirm it’s a safe and effective supplement—all based on scientific evidence.
The best part? Utiva Cranberry PACs is all-natural and 100% safe for pregnant women. Talk to your doctor about adding this supplement to your pregnancy UTI prevention plan.
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