By Eirian Hallinan
Many women get urinary infections whilst they are pregnant. Treatment is nearly always necessary because risk of the infection developing into a kidney infection is high. Antibiotics are prescribed to cure the infection and to prevent further complications. Urine infections are normally caused by bacteria from your bowel getting into your urethra and travelling to your bladder. Women are more susceptible than men to getting urine infections and pregnant women are at a high risk because hormonal changes affect the urinary tract and can slow the flow of urine. The following conditions are caused by urine infections: • Asymptomatic bacteriuria – this does not cause any symptoms but bacteria has been detected in your urine • Cystitis (bladder infection) – a common infection suffered by both pregnant and non-pregnant women. Symptoms include pain passing urine and wanting to pass urine more often, pain in your lower abdomen, blood in your urine, and fever • Kidney infection – this is uncommon. It sometimes occurs as a complication from cystitis or asymptomatic bacteriuria. Symptoms can include pain in your loin, feeling sick, fever, vomiting, diarrhoea and blood in your urine If you are pregnant and you have a urine infection you will be strongly advised to take antibiotics. If you develop a kidney infection when you are pregnant you will feel unwell but more seriously it can cause an early labour and an underweight baby. Thankfully kidney infections are not common but they can occur from complications with cystitis and it is possible you do not have any symptoms to begin with (asymptomatic bacteriuria). You should have a urine test early on in your pregnancy and your midwife might ask you to bring a urine sample with you. If you develop any symptoms of a urine infection get tested and if necessary, treated immediately. There are various treatments used when tackling urine infections during pregnancy. Your doctor will most probably prescribe antibiotics which are safe to use during pregnancy. Painkillers such as paracetamol are prescribed to deal with pain and high temperatures. Traditionally, women were advised to drink lots of water during a bout of cystitis to flush the infection out of the bladder but nowadays doctors are not convinced that this necessarily helps because it can mean more trips to the loo which means more pain trying to pass the fluid. That said, if you have a high temperature and you feel poorly then drinking plenty of water is good for you as you do not want to become dehydrated. If you are not showing any symptoms then do drink plenty of water as this is thought to help in preventing urine infections. If you are treated with antibiotics make sure that your urine is re-tested once you have finished the course to ensure your urine is definitely clear of bacteria.