Urinary Tract and Kidney Infections

Urinary Tract and Kidney Infections in Pregnancy

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a
very common health problem of pregnancy. A UTI can cause serious problems in pregnancy
it’s not treated. Normal urine is sterile. It has fluids, salts, and waste products.
does not have bacteria, viruses, or fungi. The tissues of the bladder are kept apart
urine and toxic substances by a coating. This coating helps prevent bacteria from
and growing on the bladder wall.

The main parts of the urinary tract are:

  • Two kidneys. Purplish-brown
    organs that sit below the ribs toward the middle of the back.

  • Two ureters. Narrow tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.

  • Bladder. A triangle-shaped,
    hollow organ in the lower belly.

  • Two sphincter muscles. Circular
    muscles that help keep urine from leaking. They do this by closing tightly like a
    rubber band around the opening of the bladder.

  • Urethra. The tube that allows
    urine to pass from the bladder to outside the body.

Types of infections

During pregnancy, normal changes
happen in the way the urinary tract works. One change is that the kidneys grow larger.
The growing uterus can also squeeze the ureters and bladder. During pregnancy, the
bladder does not empty as well. The urine is not as acidic. It contains more sugars,
protein, and hormones. All of these factors can increase the risk for a UTI.

  • Asymptomatic
    This infection has no symptoms. It is often caused by bacteria
    that is in the woman’s system before pregnancy. This type of infection happens in
    about 1 in 20 to 1 in 10 pregnant women. It may lead to acute bladder infection or
    kidney infection if left untreated.

  • Acute urethritis or
    A urethral or bladder infection. This causes symptoms including
    pain or burning with urination, frequent urination, feeling of needing to urinate,
    and fever.

  • Pyelonephritis. A kidney
    infection. Symptoms may include those of acute cystitis plus back pain. It may
    lead to preterm labor, severe infection, and adult respiratory distress

The most common bacteria that
causes UTI is
E. coli (Escherichia coli). It is
normally found in the vagina and rectal area. Other bacteria may also cause UTI. These
include group B streptococcus and sexually transmitted gonorrhea and chlamydia.

To diagnose a UTI, your healthcare
provider will take a full health history and give you a physical exam. You will also
need urine testing and a culture for bacteria. Experts advise getting tested at the
first prenatal visit and during pregnancy.

Treatment is important to prevent
serious complications. You may need to take antibiotics. Women with pyelonephritis
pregnancy often need to stay in the hospital to get IV (intravenous) antibiotics.