What is a UTI in pregnancy?
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) affect up to 10% of mothers during pregnancy. Studies show that it is the second most common ailment that occurs in pregnant women.
UTI symptoms can vary from a bit of discomfort to moderate pain. Because of its persistence, getting a UTI can be a frustrating experience. For pregnant women, UTIs should be treated with care. This type of infection is not only more uncomfortable but can cause severe complications for both the mother and the unborn child. All UTIs during pregnancy require medical attention.
Antibiotics are a well-known and common treatment for many UTIs. But because UTIs are often chronic or recurring, antibiotic resistance is a concern when considering treatment plans for UTI patients. Short courses of antibiotics are shown to be safe for the mother-to-be and her baby, but antibiotic use during pregnancy should be handled with care and consistent monitoring by a medical professional.
Always seek medical advice before trying to ease your UTI symptoms with home remedies. Under medical supervision, some at-home treatments may help resolve your UTI.
Symptoms of a UTI in pregnancy
A UTI is an infection that occurs within the structures that pass urine as it is being eliminated from your body. These structures include the urethra, bladder, ureters, and kidneys.
During pregnancy, changes in the mother’s body and urinary tract increase their risk of infection. Dilation of the ureters and other structures occur as the baby grows within the uterus. Hormonal changes can during this time can also make women more prone to UTIs.
Typical UTI symptoms include:
- Discomfort or pain during urination
- A frequent need to urinate
- Cloudy urine
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Strong smelling urine
- A burning sensation when urinating
Though common, UTIs can lead to dangerous complications like sepsis or kidney damage. During pregnancy, UTIs also pose risks toward both the mother and baby if the bacterial infection spreads or becomes too severe.
While not all UTIs require antibiotics, your doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic to resolve your UTI quickly.
Treatments for a UTI during pregnancy
When you are pregnant, staying hydrated is important to the health and development of your baby.
Beyond prenatal health benefits, drinking water consistently can also provide benefits to your urinary tract health.
Studies show that drinking water and staying hydrated can help flush out bacteria and infection from the urinary tract.
Drinking cranberry juice
Cranberry can be consumed in the form of unsweetened juice or convenient supplement pills.
Drinking unsweetened cranberry juice is a popular remedy for treating UTIs. A few studies suggest that cranberry juice may help prevent UTIs, but no research supports the idea that cranberry juice can cure or treat a UTI beyond easing some of the uncomfortable symptoms.
One study shows the ingredients in cranberry juice may help prevent infection-causing E. coli bacteria from collecting on the cells inside the walls of the bladder and urinary tract, which can reduce the risk of developing a UTI. Another study shows cranberry helps to stop bacteria from lingering in the urinary tract, which might help preventing infection, though more research is needed to confirm this holds true for people.
Research shows that cranberry juice does not put the mother and baby at risk when consumed during pregnancy. Studies suggest promising results from using cranberry juice to manage UTIs while pregnant.
Consuming ascorbic acid
Ascorbic acid has shown potential in helping resolve UTIs in pregnant women without risk to the mother and baby.
Consumed in the form of Vitamin C-rich foods and supplements, ascorbic acid can increase acidity in urine. The acidity helps to kill bacteria and stops infections.
Risks and outlook for a UTI in pregnancy
Because of growing concern for antibiotic resistance, researchers are looking for alternative treatments for UTIs.
While several methods show promise as effective treatments for UTIs in pregnant women, more research is needed, and antibiotics remain the most common and understood form of treatment.
It is important to seek medical attention if you are pregnant and think you may have a UTI. When not treated properly, UTIs can be harmful to you and your baby. Always consult with your doctor before trying a new home remedy.
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BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth: "A systematic review of non-antibiotic measures for the prevention of urinary tract infections in pregnancy."
BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies: "Pregnancy outcome after use of cranberry in pregnancy – the Norwegian mother and child cohort study."
BMC Pregnancy Childbirth: "Associations between hydration state and pregnancy complications, maternal-infant outcomes: protocol of a prospective observational cohort study."
Canadian Journal of Urology: "Lactobacillus for preventing recurrent urinary tract infections in women: meta-analysis."
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Penn Medicine: "Cranberry Juice Can Cure My UTI and Four Other Myths Debunked."
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