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UTI During Pregnancy

Pregnant women are more prone to UTIs (sorry!). Here's how to safely treat one—and prevent more in the future.

What is a urinary tract infection (UTI) during pregnancy?

A urinary tract infection is inflammation in your urinary tract caused by bacteria. (UTIs are also called bladder infections.) We hate to break it to you, but you’re more prone to UTIs during pregnancy. That’s because as baby grows, it puts plenty of pressure on your bladder and can prevent it from draining normally. Any bacteria that gets trapped in there can cause an infection.

What are the signs of a UTI during pregnancy?

You might have pain or discomfort when you pee, or you might have to  pee more often than usual. You should also check the toilet bowl. A UTI could cause your urine to have blood or mucus in it or to be very cloudy (it might smell strongly too). You could also have pain during sex or what feels like cramps. A particularly serious UTI will include back painfever and nausea.

Are there any tests for UTIs during pregnancy?

“We usually do a urine culture to detect a UTI,” says Lara Simondi, a certified nurse-midwife at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. You’ll have to pee in a cup, and your urine will likely get sent to a lab for analysis. “When you get all your blood work done at the beginning of pregnancy, your health care provider will probably check for UTIs since sometimes there are no obvious symptoms,” says Simondi.

How common is a UTI during pregnancy?

They’re pretty darn common, especially after week six of pregnancy.

How did I get a UTI during pregnancy?

It’s hard to say what may have caused your UTI, but know that it’s completely normal to have one during pregnancy. Sometimes germs can enter the urethra during sex or when you go to the bathroom.

How will my UTI affect my baby?

As long as you get it treated right away, it won’t. But if you don’t, it could turn into a kidney infection, which can trigger preterm labor and cause low birth weight.

What’s the best way to treat a UTI during pregnancy?

You’ll probably be given an antibiotic to fight the bacteria found in your urine culture. “Pregnant women are usually given a seven-day antibiotic treatment, instead of the typical three-day treatment,” says Simondi. “You’re slightly immune-compromised during pregnancy, so it can take a little longer to treat.”

What can I do to prevent a UTI during pregnancy?

Stay hydrated! Doctors recommend at least eight to ten glasses of water a day. Also, if you have to pee, don’t hold it, and when you wipe, always go front to back. Make sure you pee before and after sex. And wear underwear made out of a breathable fabric, like cotton.

What to other pregnant women do when they get a UTI?

"When they diagnosed me I really had no symptoms besides the fact that I had like 2 drops of blood when I wiped.  Now I only have 2 days of antibiotics left and now I am peeing all the time and only a small amount. It feels like my bladder is always full and it is uncomfortable.”

“I got one with my previous pregnancy. I was 3 weeks shy of my due date. It came on so fast and by the time I got the doc to call me in a prescription (it was on a Sunday) it had spread to my kidneys and I was hospitalized for 3 days. What a pain. Now, I'm very careful to make sure I empty my bladder every time I use the restroom. I don't want that to happen again. “

Are there any other resources for UTIs?

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Plus, more from The Bump:

Why do I have to take urine tests?

Abdominal Pain During Pregnancy

Top 10 Things They Really Should Warn You About Before You Get Pregnant