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3 unexpected truths about UTI during pregnancy

UTI during pregnancy can cause problems to both, mother and child. For moms, UTI during pregnancy increases the risks of kidney infection. For unborn children, mother’s UTI increases risk of low weight and premature birth.

UTI during pregnancy might have no symptoms

Unlike the rest of us, pregnant women often have a bladder infection while experiencing no symptoms whatsoever. UTI without symptoms called “asymptomatic bacteriuria”. This refers to a condition when the presence of harmful bacteria in urine is greater than 105 bacteria/ml. Since this condition is so common, regular urine screening tests are the best practice to diagnose this condition.

There is good evidence that treatment of asymptomatic bacteriuria decreases the chances of developing kidney infections. Therefore, if left untreated, asymptomatic bacteriuria will eventually progress to a UTI with symptoms, and possibly to kidney disease. That’s why if a standard urine test shows the presence of bacteria (even if you have no symptoms), you will be given antibiotics.

During pregnancy, your body is predisposed to UTI

Factors that contribute to urinary tract infection during pregnancy:

  • Modulated immune system and inflammatory response

Contrary to popular belief, pregnancy does not imply more susceptibility to infectious diseases. Instead, this study argues, the immune system changes it’s a response to the invading microorganisms.

One of the ways a pregnant body reacts to infection (especially in the first trimester) is by increasing its inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation promotes chronic infection and creates an environment for harmful bacteria to thrive.

  • Glucosuria

“Glucosuria” basically means that your liver lets some of the glucose sneaks into your urine, therefore increasing its glucose levels.

Up to 70%, pregnant women develop glucosuria, which encourages bacterial growth in the urine. One of the studies found that concentrations between 100 and 1000 mg/dl (i.e., moderate to severe glucosuria), stimulated the growth of E. coli the most.

  • Hormone imbalance

Pregnancy causes hormonal changes which alter vaginal pH, raising women’s susceptibility to infection.

  • Urine flow obstruction

In later stages of pregnancy, the enlarging uterus pushes on your bladder and urethra and can lead to some urine staying in your bladder

Prevention is a key

If you have asymptomatic bacteriuria, your physician will prescribe you antibiotics. Antibiotics for UTI with moderately low risk in pregnancy (category B) include erythromycin, nitrofurantoin, amoxicillin clavulanate, fosfomycin.

If you want to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, make sure to help your body by following these tips:

  1. Take probiotics for vaginal and bladder health
  2. Drink plenty of water, avoid coffee and soda
  3. Take multivitamins to support healthy levels of Vitamin C, that is proven to decrease inflammation

And the boring “eat right and exercise” are important as always. During pregnancy, it is even more important than ever to include greens and vegetables in your diet to keep your urine alkaline.

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