A full bladder competes for pelvic space with a growing uterus. Urinary tract, bladder or kidney infections may result. Many women will have at least one episode at some time during their pregnancy. The symptoms of a urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder infection (cystitis) include: painful urination, burning on urination, increased urgency and frequency of urination, lower abdominal or pelvic pain, and possibly blood in the urine. Sometimes the infection can spread upward into the kidneys (called pyelonephritis), causing severe back pain, fever, chills, rapid heart rate, vomiting, and a generally very ill feeling. Urinary tract infections are treated with a combination of self-help and medicine prescribed by your doctor:
- To lessen your chances of getting UTI’s, drink extra fluids. Cranberry juice in particular is thought to kill bacteria in the urine.
- Don’t hold onto your urine; go as soon as you feel the urge.
- Empty your bladder thoroughly at each urination by triple voiding: urinate once, wait about ten seconds, urinate again, and then a third time.
- Empty your bladder before and after intercourse.
- Wear loose-fitting underwear, pantyhose, and slacks.
- Keep your regularly scheduled prenatal appointments in which your doctor will routinely check your urine for signs of infection.
- If you suspect you have a bladder or kidney infection, have your urine checked immediately. Oftentimes, your doctor can detect a UTI immediately with routine urinalysis; sometimes an overnight culture is needed. Some women will grow bacteria in their urine even without symptoms (called asymptomatic bacteriuria), and this condition increases the chances of getting UTI’s. To screen for this, your doctor may perform frequent urine cultures as part of your prenatal care.
- If you have a urinary tract infection, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic that is safe for you to take while pregnant. The type and the duration of the antibiotic will depend upon the severity of your UTI and your stage of pregnancy. Improperly treated UTI’s increase the risk of having a problem pregnancy or premature delivery.