A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is a common occurence during pregnancy. A UTI occurs when the urinary tract becomes inflammed. When bacteria enters the urinary tract, it can become infected. This can happen during sexual intercourse, improper wiping techniques, the placement of a catheter or simply because of the changes in the urinary tract during pregnancy. As your uterus grows, it sits on the bladder and does not the bladder to completely empty, which can lead to an infection. If the UTI is not caught in time, it can lead to a kidney infection. While a urinary tract infection itself will not harm your developing baby, a kidney infection can. A kidney infection can lead to preterm labor.
Although pregnant women are at an increased risk of developing a UTI and there is no definite prevention, there are things you can do to decrease your chances of developing the infection. Drink atleast 6-8 glasses of water every day to keep your bladder and kidneys flushed. Drink one cup of unsweetened cranberry juice every day. When you feel the need to urinate, do it. Do not hold urine in, as this can lead to a UTI. Empty your bladder completely each time you urinate and urinate after sexual intercourse. When wiping after urination, wipe from front to back to avoid the chance of spreading bacteria from the anal area. Using plain white tissue paper instead of colored or patterned paper with dyes can also decrease your chances of developing a UTI. Do not use douches, feminine sprays, powders or deodorants and always wear cotton-crotch underwear. You should also limit the amount of time you spend in the bathtub to 30 minutes or less and do not use bubble bath or other novelty bath items.
There are a variety of symptoms of a UTI. The most common symptoms are blood tinged urine, a frequent and urgent need to urinate, burning while urinating and pain in the abdomen. Other symptoms that a UTI can cause are pain during sex, chills, fever, cloudy looking urine and an unusual odor of the urine. A UTI can spread to the kidneys if not treated promptly and can cause back pain, nausea and vomiting.
If you have any of the symptoms of a UTI, you should call your doctor for an examination. At the doctor's office you can expect a urinalysis, which will confirm the presence of a urinary tract infection. A UTI that is caught in time can be treated with antibiotics that are safe for both mother and baby during pregnancy. If the UTI is severe or has spread to the kidneys, hospitalization may be necessary.
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