UTIs in Pregnancy

woman on edge of bed with abdominal pain in her right side.

There is never a good time to get a urinary tract infection (UTI). They can be a pain to deal with – both literally and physically!

Developing a UTI during pregnancy can be even more serious because of the health risks it can pose to you and your baby. Unfortunately, pregnant women are at increased risk for UTIs starting in week 6 through week 24 because of changes in the urinary tract. 

Luckily, if you’re pregnant, there’s no reason to panic – the experts at Copperstate have created a guide to help you identify, prevent, and treat UTIs during pregnancy.

What Is a UTI?

Before diving into the specifics of UTIs, let’s start with the basics. A UTI, or urinary tract infection is an infection in any part of the urinary system. The urinary system is made up of four main parts:

  • The kidneys
  • The bladder
  • The urethra 
  • The ureters

However, most infections involve the lower urinary tract where the bladder and the urethra are located. While UTIs are most common in women, they can also affect men. 

UTIs form when bacteria enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to spread in the bladder. When this happens, the bacteria may grow into a full-blown infection in the urinary tract, bringing along a number of unpleasant symptoms. 

What are the Symptoms of a UTI?

While not every woman will experience symptoms with a UTI, the majority that do will typically experience one or more of the following:

  • A strong urge to urinate that doesn’t go away
  • Cloudy urine
  • Burning or severe pain while urinating 
  • Blood in urine
  • Strong-smelling urine
  • Pelvic pain
  • Urinating frequently, in small amounts
  • Not being able to fully empty the bladder

If a UTI goes untreated, it can also spread to the kidneys, and bring a number of more severe symptoms such as back pain, chills, fever, nausea, and vomiting. 

UTIs in Pregnancy

During pregnancy, a plethora of physical changes occur in the body that can increase your risk of developing a UTI. 

For example, during pregnancy, both the composition of your urine and your immune system change, potentially leaving you more susceptible to infections. Additionally, as your baby grows, there is an increase in the amount of pressure on your bladder, which can reduce the flow of your urine and create an inviting environment for an infection to form.

How Will a UTI Affect Your Baby?

If a UTI is left untreated for an extended period of time, it can spread to the kidneys, causing more serious health risks to your baby including early labor and low birth weight. UTIs during pregnancy can also increase your risk of developing high blood pressure which can cause numerous uncomfortable symptoms.

How To Identify a UTI While Pregnant

UTIs are diagnosed with urine testing, and sometimes even ultrasounds of the kidneys. If you are experiencing any UTI symptoms at all, it’s important to call your doctor as soon as possible to ensure you can be tested and treated as quickly as possible to avoid any risks to yourself or the baby. 

However, the unfortunate reality is that 1 in 10 pregnant women with a UTI will not experience any symptoms at all. This is why going for check-ups during pregnancy, and receiving routine blood and urine testing is so more important. 

How To Treat a UTI while Pregnant

Luckily, UTIs can be treated easily and quickly with antibiotics, even during pregnancy. Doctors will typically prescribe a 3-7 day antibiotic, that will clear up the infection and help to alleviate any symptoms you are experiencing. 

Preventing UTIs while Pregnant

While there is no sure-fire way to prevent UTIs while pregnant, there are a handful of things you can do in your daily routine to help reduce your chances of developing an infection, such as:

  • Drinking 6-8 glasses of water daily
  • Cutting back on caffeine and sugar
  • Urinating before and after intercourse
  • Changing underwear frequently
  • Emptying your full bladder when urinating
  • Increasing Vitamin-C intake

Incorporating these simple steps into your daily life can help increase your likelihood of preventing an infection when exposed to bacteria.

Copperstate and UTIs During Pregnancy

Whether you are pregnant or not, Copperstate is here for you!

Our practice is recognized as one of the most progressive OB/Gyn groups in Southern Arizona. Our expert physicians offer a number of services focused on helping you feel your best and deal with infections both during and after pregnancy. Our services include annual Well Women exams, bladder infection testing, and so much more to ensure your reproductive health is always prioritized.

Are you looking for an OB/Gyn you can trust to support you during pregnancy in the Tucson area? Let us support you in achieving true health and wellness. Call (520) 721-8605 to book your appointment today.