How to treat a urinary tract infection during pregnancy?
Many pregnant women suffer from a urinary tract infection. Fortunately, in the vast majority of cases, the disease is diagnosed and treated quickly without difficulty. Complications are only to be feared when detected too late, which is relatively rare.
What causes a urinary tract infection?
The urinary tract infection is triggered when a germ enters the urinary tract and multiply it. Reasons of the problem is usually an intestinal bacterium of the Escherichia coli type, which often causes cystitis (inflammation of the bladder). More rarely other germs, such as the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis (sexually transmitted) can also cause a urinary tract infection. For a Chlamydia infection, it is usually urethritis (inflammation of the urethra, the channel evacuating urine out of the bladder).
Pregnancy, a risk factor for urinary tract infection?
Pregnancy promotes the appearance of urinary tract infections: about 10% of pregnant women are affected. Why ? Simply because of the hormonal upheavals in pregnancy (especially the increase in progesterone levels) that decrease urinary tract tone from the first trimester of pregnancy. They become “lazy” in short: the urine flow is reduced, and the urine stagnates a little too long in the bladder, which weakens its defenses against the microbes. Also, when your uterus becomes too large (as early as the second trimester of pregnancy), you have trouble emptying your bladder completely, which further increases the risk of urinary tract infection.
What are the symptoms?
Very often, the urinary tract infection does not trigger any symptoms during pregnancy. In some cases, however, it may manifest itself clearly. It then presents the classical symptoms of cystitis, namely:
- A frequent urge to urinate (even if only a few drops)
- A burning sensation when you urinate,
- Turbid urine and malodorous urine.
- Sometimes, the urinary tract infection also manifests itself in a mere sensation of gravity in the lower abdomen.
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What are the risks for mother and baby?
The urinary tract infection itself is safe for you and your child. On the other hand, without proper treatment, it may develop into pyelonephritis: in other words, the infection may spread to the kidneys. The symptoms are usually a kidney disease and a shivering fever, possibly accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Apart from pyelonephritis, contractions are triggered, leading to a risk of premature delivery: this is the main complication feared in case of urinary tract infection. In the most severe cases, there is also a risk of death in utero.
The infection may also be transmitted to the child, but it is usually a mild problem: the baby is examined at birth to receive immediate treatment if necessary.
Urinary tract infection: a systematic diagnosis
Whether you have symptoms or not, you will regularly be monitored (by your doctor or midwife) during your pregnancy to detect and treat any urinary tract infections quickly. This is why complications rarely happen … A diagnostic tool used is the urine strip. If it indicates the presence of an infection, you will surely have to do an ECBU (cytobacteriological examination of the urine) which will determine the nature of the bacteria and the treatment to be used.
Urinary tract infection: what treatment during pregnancy
In general, treatment is easy. For a simple urinary tract infection, you will only need to take a painkiller and specific antibiotics (safe for the baby of course) for a few days so that everything goes in order. Note: Since Escherichia coli infection accounts for the vast majority of cases, the doctor often gives antibiotics to the bacterium before receiving the results of the ECBU. If the examination finally reveals another germ, it just adapts the treatment.
Finally, in the case of pyelonephritis, hospitalization is often decided as a precautionary measure: analgesics and antibiotics are then usually administered by venous route. The treatment gives excellent results as long as the pyelonephritis is taken care of fairly early.
How to prevent urinary infections during pregnancy?
Good news: you can drastically reduce the risk of urinary tract infection during pregnancy. For this, it is recommended:
- Drink enough (1.5 to 2 liters per day) to drain your kidneys,
- To drink, if possible, cranberry juice (it protects the walls of the bladder from germs),
- Avoid certain foods and drinks known to be aggressive to the bladder, especially spices, watercress, coffee, tea, and asparagus,
- To wipe you from front to back when you go to the toilet,
- Urinate after each sexual intercourse (to remove any germs present in the urethra),
- To use very gentle soaps for your intimate hygiene.
We recommend reading the article: When to do a pregnancy test?