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Urinary Tract Infections are very common during pregnancy. What you may not know, is that they can also be pretty dangerous. We will explore what UTIs are, how they can be treated, and which dangers they pose to pregnant women and their babies.

What is a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a phenomenon that is, unfortunately, familiar to most women. You probably know that burning feeling all too well. In short, a UTI is a bacterial infection in the urinary tract. A UTI can also be a called bladder infection, and it sometimes spreads to the kidneys, causing a kidney infection. That is why every person needs to take the symptoms of a UTI seriously and seek appropriate treatment.

Antibiotics aren't always necessary, but if home-treatments like cranberry pills and lots of water don't work, you do need to see your family doctor. A kidney infection can really be quite serious. I had one once, so I can also tell you they are excruciatingly painful. What is the deal with pregnancy and Urinary Tract Infections?

To start with, expectant moms between weeks six and 24 weeks have a higher chance of developing them. There are a few different reasons for this, ranging from hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, to physical changes like a higher pressure on the bladder, and to personal hygiene difficulties caused by a huge pregnant belly. No, I'm not accusing you of poor personal hygiene. Science does :).

That doesn't mean you'll personally have issues wiping yourself, obviously. All in all, Urinary Tract Infections are almost the most common infection pregnant women get! UTIs are irritating, literally. There are not something anyone really wants to have at all. But, UTIs can be more serious than you may think. We'll get to the little known dangers of bladder infections in the next section. Meanwhile, here's a reminder of the symptoms of Urinary Tract Infections:

  • A burning sensation while urinating.
  • Pain while urinating.
  • Feeling like you are going to pee yourself, but actually having very little urinary output.
  • More frequent urination.
  • Chills, sweats.
  • Fever.
  • Accute pain, if you have developed a kidney infection.

There are different kinds of UTIs, including acute cystitis and asymptomatic bacteriuria. All are diagnosed through a urine test.

Dangers of Urinary Tract Infections during pregnancy

Have you noticed that burning feeling and do you think you have a UTI? Urinary Tract Infections are annoying under the best of circumstances, but they can be downright dangerous when they happen during pregnancy. Don't wonder if those symptoms are normal pregnancy signs or a Urinary Tract Infection see your OBGYN for a urine test! Why? Well, take your pick. UTIs during pregnancy are associated with:

  • Pyelonephritis.
  • Preterm labor and birth.
  • A low birth weight.
  • A higher perinatal mortality rate. (!!!)

Pyelonephritis is pretty common complication of UTIs. Around two percent of all pregnant women encounter this complication, but it can happen to non-pregnant people, including kids, too. The symptoms are fever, flank pain, nausea and vomiting, and a significant reduction in urine output. Really, call your doctor before it gets to this stage. Antibiotics are available. They still work (though there are plenty of scary articles in the news warning this may change in the future!). Preterm labor, a low infant birth weight, and a higher perinatal mortality rate speak for themselves. That is some serious business right there.

UTIs during pregnancy curing and preventing

If you do end up with a Urinary Tract Infection during your pregnancy, you are far from alone. Routine urine tests during prenatal care appointments are carried out for many different reasons, but looking for UTIs is one of those. Once a Urinary Tract Infection is diagnosed, either through a routine screening or because you had symptoms, a course of antibiotics (most commonly amoxicillin) for three to seven days is the most common treatment.

Meanwhile, there are actually quite a few things you can do to prevent those nasty infections from showing up. They include drinking plenty of clear fluids, but also cranberry juice which has cleansing and anti-inflammatory properties. On the flip side, limit your intake of sugar and junk food to strengthen your immune system. Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement daily. Then, there's the obvious stuff my six-year old already knows. Urinate when you feel the need, and don't weight. Wipe yourself after you are done with the toilet. Change your underwear every day. Also, try wearing cotton underwear only, don't wear pants that are really tight-fitting, and don't use vaginal douches, and don't bathe longer than 30 minutes and not every day.

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