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Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are one of the most common minor complications in pregnancy. Knowing about the risks, causes and symptoms of UTIs can help you identify the symptoms and seek treatment quickly.

How dangerous are UTIs for pregnant women?

Most UTIs that occur during pregnancy involve the lower urinary tract, which includes the organ that stores urine (bladder) and the tube that carries urine out of the body (urethra). Lower UTIs typically do not pose serious health risks. However, an untreated UTI can spread to the kidneys, causing an infection known as pyelonephritis. A kidney infection can lead to organ damage or a potentially fatal blood infection. 

Fortunately, you can greatly reduce your risk of a kidney infection by seeking treatment as soon as symptoms start. Your primary care provider can prescribe an antibiotic that is safe for you and your baby to eliminate the bacteria responsible for the infection. Depending on the type of infection you have, you will likely need to take an antibiotic for 3 to 10 days. Even if you feel better sooner, it’s important to take all of the medication prescribed.

What causes UTIs during pregnancy?

UTIs occur when bacteria enter your urinary tract. About 90 percent of pregnant women experience widening of the urethra, which makes it easier for microbes to enter. In addition, pregnant women commonly have sugar in their urine that encourages the growth of bacteria. Hormonal changes may also make it more difficult for the body to fight the infection.

What are the symptoms of a UTI?

Symptoms of a UTI during pregnancy include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Pain while urinating
  • Passing only a small amount of urine
  • Burning during urination
  • Abdominal pain and pressure
  • Low-grade fever

You can also have a UTI and experience no symptoms at all. As a result, your OB/GYN or midwife may test your urine at every prenatal appointment to identify asymptomatic infection.

If you experience any of the following symptoms of a kidney infection, seek medical care quickly:

  • High fever
  • Pain in your side
  • Pain in your back
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

What can I do to prevent a UTI while pregnant?

While it may not be possible to completely eliminate the risk of UTIs during pregnancy, here’s how you can decrease your chances of developing one:

  • Drink six to eight, 8-oz. glasses of water per day to support urine production
  • Go to the bathroom as soon as you can after noticing the urge
  • Urinate soon after sexual intercourse to flush out bacteria
  • Wipe from front to back after going to the bathroom to keep bacteria from your anus from coming in contact with your urethra
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing and breathable cotton underwear

Forward simplifies treatment for urinary tract infections

Starting antibiotics as soon as possible can reduce the risk of a mild urinary tract infection developing into a more serious case of pyelonephritis. Forward makes it simple to see your primary care provider so you can begin feeling better quickly. You can easily schedule an in-person or virtual appointment and have your prescription delivered to your door. Our one-on-one, personalized care also includes education on preventative measures that you can take to lower the risk of UTIs recurring during and after pregnancy.

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