Pregnancy and urinary tract infection
Urinary tract infections, or UTIs, are common during pregnancy.
Pregnancy hormones cause changes in the urinary tract which make infections more likely.
In addition, as the uterus grows it presses on the bladder and can prevent complete emptying of urine. This stagnant urine is a likely source of infection. Untreated, these infections may lead to kidney infections. Urinary tract infections in pregnant women should be treated to prevent complications such as the infection spreading to the kidneys or causing premature labour.
How do I know if I have a urinary tract infection?
Urinary tract infection symptoms include:
- Having a burning sensation during urination.
- Feeling an urgent need to urinate or frequent urination.
- Having difficulty urinating.
- Having a burning sensation or cramps in the lower back or lower abdomen.
- Urine that looks cloudy or has an odour. In pregnancy there may be no symptoms from bacteria in the urine. The NHS now recommends that all pregnant women should be checked for this 'asymptomatic’ infection and given treatment if necessary.
If I think I may have a urinary tract infection, what should I do?
If you think you have a urinary tract infection, seek medical advice. A doctor can test a small sample of urine for bacteria and red and white blood cells. The urine may also be tested to see what kind of bacteria are in the urine (called a urine culture).
If your infection is causing discomfort, you will probably be given treatment anyway before the urine test results come back.
How are urinary tract infections treated?
Urinary tract infections are treated with antibiotics. You will need to take the medication for 3 to 5 days, depending on the antibiotic used or as determined by your doctor.
How soon does the medication work for urinary tract infections?
The symptoms should go away in three days, but, unless instructed by your doctor, it’s important to complete your full course of medication, even if the symptoms go away.