Urinary Tract Infections & Pregnancy: 5 Things to Know

pregnant bellySorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you're approaching your 6th week of pregnancy, you could be at an increased risk of getting a urinary tract infection (UTI). And that higher risk continues right up through week 24. The good news is that most UTIs are simple bladder infections, which aren't a real threat to you or your baby. The not-so-good news: UTIs can develop in more serious places -- the kidneys, ureters (they carry urine to your bladder), and urethra. The bright side: Since you're pregnant, your urine is getting tested frequently so your doctor is more likely to catch a UTI in the early stages. If you do have one, it's easily treatable.

Here, everything you need to know about UTIs & pregnancy.

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1. You're more likely to get a UTI when you're pregnant than when you're not. Your uterus is positioned just above your bladder, and as it grows when you're pregnant, it presses down, making you feel like you have to pee every 2 seconds. That part you probably knew. But what you might not know: It also prevents urine from draining properly, and when this happens, bacteria can accumulate and turn into an UTI.

2. The symptoms aren't always obvious. Some UTIs, such as simple bladder infections, are quieter than others, and you may not know you even have one until your doctor takes a urine sample during your checkup. Others are more obvious. Symptoms include: burning sensation when you pee, having to go now, cloudy urine, smelly urine, urine containing blood or mucus, and pain during sex. If bacteria has spread to your kidneys, you might even experience back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting.

3. A UTI won't hurt your baby -- as long as you treat it. If UTIs are treated early, they shouldn't pose a risk to you or your baby. However, "urinary tract infections, even if they are not causing symptoms, are associated with progressing to a potentially serious kidney infection in pregnant women if untreated," says Lauren F. Streicher, M.D., clinical associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University. "In addition, untreated urinary tract infections are associated with pre-term labor and low birth weight." There is a small risk that untreated kidney infections could get into your bloodstream and become life-threatening -- to you or your baby.

4. You can try to prevent a UTI. There's no guarantee that you won't get one, even if you take the proper precautions, but here are some things you can try: Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day, take a cranberry supplement with your doctor's permission, don't hold urine in, pee before and after sex, and avoid tight-fitting clothing.

5. They are easily treatable. Almost all UTIs are easy to treat with medication. "Any positive urine cultures during pregnancy should be treated with antibiotics," says Dr. Streicher. If you think you might have a UTI, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Did you ever have a UTI while pregnant? How did you treat it?

 

Image via Raul Hernandez Gonzalez/Flickr

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