Urinary Tract Infection in Pregnancy

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a bacterial infection of the urinary tract. Infection of the urinary tract can include the ureters, kidneys (pyelonephritis), bladder (cystitis), and urethra (urethritis). All pregnant women should be screened for bacteria in the urinary tract. Identifying and treating a UTI will decrease the risk of preterm labor and developing more serious infections in both the mother and baby.

CAUSES

Bacteria germs cause almost all UTIs. There are many factors that can increase your chances of getting a UTI during pregnancy. These include:

  • Having a short urethra.

  • Poor toilet and hygiene habits.

  • Sexual intercourse.

  • Blockage of urine along the urinary tract.

  • Problems with the pelvic muscles or nerves.

  • Diabetes.

  • Obesity.

  • Bladder problems after having several children.

  • Previous history of UTI.

SYMPTOMS

  • Pain, burning, or a stinging feeling when urinating.

  • Suddenly feeling the need to urinate right away (urgency).

  • Loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence).

  • Frequent urination, more than is common with pregnancy.

  • Lower abdominal or back discomfort.

  • Bad smelling urine.

  • Cloudy urine.

  • Blood in the urine (hematuria).

  • Fever. 

When the kidneys are infected, the symptoms may be:

  • Back pain.

  • Flank pain on the right side more so than the left.

  • Fever.

  • Chills.

  • Nausea.

  • Vomiting.

DIAGNOSIS

  • Urine tests.

  • Additional tests and procedures may include:

  • Ultrasound of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra.

  • Looking in the bladder with a lighted tube (cystoscopy).

  • Certain X-ray studies only when absolutely necessary.

Finding out the results of your test

Ask when your test results will be ready. Make sure you get your test results.

TREATMENT

  • Antibiotic medicine by mouth.

  • Antibiotics given through the vein (intravenously), if needed.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Finish them even if you start to feel better. Only take medicine as directed by your caregiver.

  • Drink enough fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow.

  • Do not have sexual intercourse until the infection is gone and your caregiver says it is okay.

  • Make sure you are tested for UTIs throughout your pregnancy if you get one. These infections often come back. 

Preventing a UTI in the future:

  • Practice good toilet habits. Always wipe from front to back. Use the tissue only once.

  • Do not hold your urine. Empty your bladder as soon as possible when the urge comes.

  • Do not douche or use deodorant sprays.

  • Wash with soap and warm water around the genital area and the anus.

  • Empty your bladder before and after sexual intercourse.

  • Wear underwear with a cotton crotch.

  • Avoid caffeine and carbonated drinks. They can irritate the bladder.

  • Drink cranberry juice or take cranberry pills. This may decrease the risk of getting a UTI.

  • Do not drink alcohol.

  • Keep all your appointments and tests as scheduled. 

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Your symptoms get worse.

  • You are still having fevers 2 or more days after treatment begins.

  • You develop a rash.

  • You feel that you are having problems with medicines prescribed.

  • You develop abnormal vaginal discharge.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You develop back or flank pain.

  • You develop chills.

  • You have blood in your urine.

  • You develop nausea and vomiting.

  • You develop contractions of your uterus.

  • You have a gush of fluid from the vagina.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.