Urinary tract infections are very common during pregnancy. In fact, according to American Family Physician, about 10% of office visits to the doctor are for women with UTIs.
The good news is that a UTI is easy to resolve if caught early. But there can be some complications with UTIs during pregnancy if left untreated.
What is a UTI?
A urinary tract infection (UTI) is an infection that can affect your bladder, kidneys, ureters, or urethra. Most commonly, a UTI occurs in the lower urinary tract which includes the urethra and the bladder.
Although men get urinary tract infections too, women are more likely to get UTIs because they have a shorter urethra than men. This makes it easier for the bacteria (usually E. coli, also known as Escherichia) that causes a UTI to get into the urinary tract and travel to the bladder.
Causes of a UTI During Pregnancy
The physical and hormonal changes to a woman’s body tend to make a them more susceptible to getting a UTI during pregnancy. As your baby grows inside your uterus it starts to put pressure on your bladder. This can prevent you from emptying out all of your urine, which then creates an environment for bacteria to get trapped and multiply. Other times, bacteria may enter into the urethra when you go to the bathroom or when you have sex.
Symptoms of UTI during pregnancy may include:
- Urine that looks cloudy
- Urine that has a strange smell
- Pain or discomfort during urination
- Feel like you need to urinate more often
- Waking up to urinate
- Pain, tenderness, or cramps in the lower abdomen or bladder area
- Blood in the urine
- Chills, fever, nausea, or vomiting
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Are UTIs more common during pregnancy?
Yes. Because of the physical changes that your body goes through, pregnant women do tend to get more UTIs. Women start to experience ureteral dilation, or expansion of the urethra, as early as six weeks into their pregnancy. This causes the urinary tract to get larger. You may also start to lose muscle tone in your bladder, which traps your urine inside the urethra and allows bacteria to grow.
A woman who is pregnant also has urine that is more concentrated because of all of the extra hormones and certain types of sugar that your body makes during pregnancy. This also encourages bacteria to grow and makes it harder for your body to fight off an infection.
Will a UTI hurt my baby?
A urinary tract infection that is left untreated may lead to a kidney infection. A kidney infection can be dangerous to your baby because there is a possibility that it may lead to early labor or a low birth weight. If you think that you may have a UTI or have uncomfortable symptoms when you urinate, consider seeing a doctor as soon as possible to avoid any complications during your pregnancy.
Treatment for UTI while you’re pregnant
If your regular doctor can’t see you right away, telehealth websites like www.plushcare.com are an easy and convenient way to get treatment fast. At the end of your consultation, your online physician will give you a diagnosis and offer you a treatment plan which will include any prescription medications and lab tests if necessary. Your doctor will send your prescription electronically to the pharmacy of your choice and you can pick up your prescription.
A UTI can be treated safely with antibiotics if you are pregnant. Generally, antibiotics such as penicillin, erythromycin, and amoxicillin are safe for pregnant women.
A doctor will usually give you a prescription for antibiotics that will last three to seven days. It is important to let your doctor know if you develop any fever, nausea, vomiting, chills, stomach pain, contractions, or if you still have a burning or discomfort after three days of taking your prescription for antibiotics.
Think you may be experiencing symptoms of a UTI? Book an appointment with a PlushCare physician and get a prescription today.