Urinary tract infection (UTI) is not an unusual issue for pregnant women. It is caused by bacteria that enters the urinary tract from the urethra or the bladder. Symptoms of UTI include frequent urination, incontinence, a burning feeling while urinating, presence of blood or mucous in the urine, pain in the bladder or lower abdomen and fever in some cases. Pregnant women are more susceptible to UTI because of hormonal changes and bladder stress from the growing uterus.

Urinary tract infection, if untreated, can lead to kidney infection that may affect the unborn baby. There is a risk of pre-term labor which may endanger the child’s life or it may cause the baby to have a low birth weight. Treatment of UTI is generally easy – just by taking some prescribed antibiotics. However, it is easier to prevent it by adhering to these tips:

  • Urinate when you feel like it. The urge to urinate becomes more frequent during pregnancy since the growing uterus adds more pressure to the bladder and the kidney has more blood to filter. It’s important to go when you feel like it because holding it in can cause bacteria to multiply.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. The fluids lost from urinating so often must be replaced to keep the body from getting dehydrated. Water must be preferred over flavored drinks. Avoid drinks that has a diuretic effect like coffee and tea; these drinks are not recommended during pregnancy anyway.
  • Keep your genital area clean. It’s important to have proper hygiene to prevent bacteria from growing. Wash the vaginal area using a mild soap or mild feminine wash. Wipe front to back to avoid fecal matter from entering the urinary tract. Also, be sure to change feminine pads or pantyliners often.
  • Empty your bladder completely. Take your time when urinating to completely release the contents of your bladder. Exhaling and leaning forward while urinating can help do this. Urine left in the bladder will not only cause you to go back in the toilet after just a few minutes, but it may also be a cause for UTI. Urine left in the urethra can flow back in the bladder carrying bacteria.
  • Avoid tight-fitting clothes and underwear. Bacteria thrive best in a moist environment, so try not to wear panties that are too snug or pants that are too tight. Wear maternity underwear especially if your regular panties become tight. Go for cotton fabrics where the skin can breathe easier.
  • Avoid tub baths. When taking a bath, use the shower instead of dipping in the tub. The bacteria in the tub might contaminate the water and then enter your body. Furthermore, avoid pools that are not properly treated with chlorine. Lack of chlorine suggests that the water is not disinfected while too much of it may irritate your skin.
  • Replenish your bacteria. Not all bacteria are harmful. There are good bacteria that are actually beneficial in keeping the bad bacteria from becoming a threat. Examples of these are Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus. They can be obtained from yogurt, lactobacillus drinks or bought in tablet or capsule forms.
  • Talk to your doctor. If you’ve had a previous UTI experience, it’s important to let your doctor know about it since there is a big chance of it reoccurring during pregnancy. This way, your doctor can make precautionary measures and give proper medication when needed.

Urinary tract infection may not seem like a serious health risk at first, but when left untreated it can cause severe discomfort to the mother and may even put the baby’s life at risk.