Pregnancy brings endless hormonal and physical changes in woman’s body These changes along with already short urethra, distented belly makes it difficult for women’s to have intact hygiene practises thus causing UTI to be the second most common infection.
As per the recent data Urinary tract infections (UTIs) affecting nearly 10% of expectant mothers. Pregnant women are more prone to UTIs due to hormonal changes, increased urinary tract pressure, and the overall compromised immune system.
Causes and Risk Factors of UTIs in Pregnancy
A urinary tract infection occurs when bacteria, usually Escherichia coli (E. coli), enter the urinary tract through the urethra and begin to multiply. During pregnancy, the risk of UTIs increases due to several factors:
• Hormonal changes: Increased levels of progesterone cause the urinary tract muscles to relax, slowing down the flow of urine and allowing bacteria to proliferate.
• Physical changes: As the uterus expands, it puts pressure on the bladder and the ureters, impairing the normal flow of urine and increasing the likelihood of bacterial growth.
• Weakened immune system: Pregnancy naturally suppresses the immune system to accommodate the growing foetus, making expectant mothers more susceptible to infections.
Preventative Measures and In-House Prevention
Various health organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have outlined the following recommendations for preventing UTIs in pregnancy:
• Hydration: Drink plenty of water to help flush bacteria from the urinary tract.
• Urinate frequently: Empty the bladder regularly to prevent the buildup of bacteria.
• Wipe from front to back: After using the toilet, always wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to the urethra.
• Avoid irritants: Limit the use of harsh soaps, bubble baths, and other products that may irritate the genital area.
• Wear breathable underwear: Choose underwear made from natural fibers, such as cotton, to allow for better air circulation and reduce the likelihood of bacterial growth.
• Follow doctor’s recommendations: Pregnant women should attend regular prenatal check-ups and follow their healthcare provider.
• Natural Probiotics: Incorporating probiotics into the diet, through food sources like yogurt can help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the urinary tract and maintain a healthy balance.
• Vitamin C: Consuming adequate amounts of vitamin C from natural source like Indian gooseberry, oranges etc can help support the immune system and may increase the acidity of urine, creating an inhospitable environment for bacteria.
• Avoid caffeine and alcohol: Limiting the intake of caffeine and alcohol can help reduce bladder irritation, which may contribute to UTIs.
Urinary tract infections in pregnancy are common but can lead to severe complications if left untreated. Pregnant women should be aware of the risk factors, signs, and symptoms of UTIs and take preventative measures to reduce their risk. Early diagnosis and treatment are vital for the health of both the mother and the baby. By following the recommendations outlined above and maintaining open communication with healthcare providers, expectant mothers can minimize the risk of UTIs and ensure a healthy pregnancy for themselves and their unborn children.