UTIs during Pregnancy
Why Are Pregnant Women Prone to Urinary Tract Infections?
Pregnant women are particularly prone to contracting urinary tract infections (UTIs), also known as bladder infections. A bladder infection means there is a bacterial inflammation in the urinary tract. Since the uterus is located right above the bladder, the growing uterus during pregnancy not only puts pressure on the bladder but it can actually block the drainage of urine, which in turn can lead to bacterial growth and infection. Fortunately, UTIs are treatable with antibiotics that are safe for both the mother and her growing baby.
Urinary Tract Infection Symptoms
Bladder infection symptoms include a burning sensation, discomfort, or pain while peeing; pain during sexual intercourse; pelvic pain or discomfort; tenderness, pressure, or pain in the lower abdomen; strong and frequent urge to urinate even when there is minimal urine in the bladder; blood in the urine; foul-smelling urine. Fortunately, UTIs are easily treated with antibiotics. However, if left untreated, the urinary tract infection can spread to the kidneys, causing much greater damage and more severe symptoms. In a worst-case scenario, it can ultimately cause premature labor or low birth weight.
Swelling of the Kidneys
When normal urine flow is prevented by the growing uterus during pregnancy, urine backs up in the kidney's small tubes and central collecting area (renal pelvis) giving rise to a condition known as hydropnephrosis, or swelling of the kidneys. Hydropnephrosis can set in without symptoms, but gradually women may experience a dull, aching discomfort or women may experience sharp pain. In order to determine if the swelling is causing kidney damage, pregnant women with hydropnephrosis will be closely monitored by their doctor, and if necessary the kidney area can be drained. In most cases, however, the condition goes away by itself after giving birth and the baby is not harmed. Women with swollen kidneys can reduce their discomfort by not putting pressure on the affected area.
Women with a urinary tract infection can also consult with a certified herbalist for antimicrobial herbs that can help. Among herbs that have been known to treat bladder infections are parsley root, bucchu, cornsilk, uva ursi, burdock, grindelia, pipsissew, couchgrass, and cleavers.
Helpful Hints: How to Prevent UTIs
•- Drink plenty of water daily, as well as acidic juices such as cranberry and lemon
•- Avoid caffeine, which increases urinary output
•- Wear cotton or breathable underwear
•- Pee often and don't hold it in
•- Urinate after sex to rinse away any remaining bacteria (which could go up the urethra and cause infection)
•- After urinating, wipe from front to back to keep bacteria away from the urethra
•- Avoid wearing tight-fitting pants
•- Try herbal teas that improve bladder and kidney function, such as Dandelion and Nettle teas