15% of pregnant women contract a UTI — what is it and how do you treat it?

A burning sensation, constant need to urinate, pain and discomfort while urinating or foul-smelling, bloody urine. And a fever. Familiar?

Those are the symptoms of Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and according to Dr Lim Kai Hung, a family physician from Lifescan Medical Centre, pregnant women have a higher tendency to contracting UTI. “Primarily, it is due to the growing uterus that is potentially causing a mechanical obstruction to the bladder,” says Dr Lim. “It prevents the bladder from emptying completely. Apart from that, the hormonal changes also play a part.”

According to healthxchange.com.sg, about 15 per cent of pregnant women here will experience UTI.

UTI is the presence of excessive bacteria in the urinary tract (kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra). The presence of these germs may cause, bladder infection (cystitis) and kidney infection (pyelonephritis). Cystitis is a common form of UTI and pyelonephritis — while uncommon — may occur as a complication from cystitis.

Fortunately, as long as it is treated, there will not be any lasting effects of UTI for both your bump and you. “UTIs are not transferrable from mother to child,” says Dr Lim. But, if left untreated, you have a high risk of contracting pyelonephritis, which can be fatal to you, and in extreme cases, cause the death of your baby. The symptoms of pyelonephritis include fever or severe back pain along with the above-mentioned symptoms.

If you suspect you have a UTI, you should get immediate medical attention for a medical assessment on your condition and treatment. As UTI is not fatal when treated, you will usually recover within a week.

To prevent or lower your chances of contracting UTI, these are the steps Dr Lim has suggested:

• Urinating after sexual intercourse.

• Ensuring adequate hydration (drinking lots of water and fluids).

• Practising good personal hygiene.

• Avoiding feminine hygiene products and vaginal douches during pregnancy.

• Avoiding the holding in of urine when there is the urge to go (just do it!).

Plus, to lower your chances of infection, make sure that you use the preferred method of wiping yourself after using the the loo. “The ideal wiping direction is front to back,” says Dr Lim. “Theoretically, it can prevent bacteria at the anal area from spreading to the urethra (urine) area that can lead to UTI.”

Photo: iStock

Like us on Facebook and check SmartParents regularly for the latest reads!

Elsewhere on SmartParents.sg...

5 fights couples have (and how to avoid them)

How to avoid 4 common breastfeeding problems

9 vital points about baby’s health