UTIs and pregnancy: Why these happen and what you can do about it!

Written by

Kayleigh Maxwell

UTIs are common during pregnancy with somewhere between 2 and 10 percent of pregnant women likely to experience a UTI at least once. If you've suffered from a UTI in the past, it's more likely that you'll suffer again during pregnancy. It is important for you to know that between the 6th and 24th week of pregnancy women are at an increased risk of UTIs, and often these infections will reoccur.

A pregnant woman's body is almost the perfect breeding ground for a UTI. As your baby grows in the womb, it can start to put pressure on both the bladder and urinary tract. This can mean bacteria stays in the urethra or can cause urine to leak out. In addition, your urethra will begin to expand from early pregnancy and will continue to do so until your baby arrives.

As if that wasn't enough, when you are pregnant your urine is likely to become less acidic. It will contain more protein and hormones than outside pregnancy, with more sugars present than before. Your urine becomes more concentrated and can encourage bacteria to grow.

What are the symptoms of a UTI during pregnancy?

There’s a wealth of information available online about UTIs during pregnancy. You can learn more about cystitis and how to treat it by speaking to your gynaecologist or health professional. You can also utilize digital tools to educate yourself more by visiting the NHS website.

We’ve pulled together our symptoms checker list below to help you find out if you may have a UTI.

UTI symptoms to look out for during pregnancy include:

  • Tiredness, during pregnancy, it’s common to feel tired but you may feel even more tired than usual.

  • Pain in your lower stomach, in your bladder area but again, this can be a common side effect of pregnancy so no need to panic!

  • Burning sensation while peeing, it’s common with a UTI to feel a burning sensation or discomfort when you pee.

  • Frequent urination, you may need to pee more frequently than usual and with greater urgency.

  • Changes in urine colour or smell, your urine may be stronger smelling or could change colour to appear darker or cloudy like apple juice.

Is a UTI harmful for your baby?

If a UTI is not identified and goes untreated, it may lead to a kidney infection. A kidney infection could cause you to go into labour early and could result in a low birth weight for your child. However, if you catch a UTI early and treat it effectively, a UTI will not cause harm to your baby. With proper care, you and your baby should be absolutely fine!

Most UTIs are identified through urinalysis and are carried out in a laboratory. We’d only recommend taking a UTI test if you are showing the UTI symptoms outlined above. The TestCard test is non-invasive and can be taken at any time and in a location that suits you without the need to visit a doctor’s surgery.

Symptoms of a kidney infection include back pain, fever, chills, nausea and vomiting. If you think you have a kidney infection you should make an appointment to see a doctor as soon as possible.

How TestCard works

Using TestCard is easy. We’ve taken the testing method that’s been honed over decades and transformed it for the twenty-first century.

TestCard is a postcard holding a set of test strips that pairs with a free smartphone app. When you’ve taken our UTI test, you will receive instant, medical grade results from a place that suits you. You can then choose to share these with your health professional, cutting out the need for an appointment saving both time and resources.

There’s no waiting, no doctor visits, no laboratory and no need for healthcare experts to translate results. Taking this non-invasive test during pregnancy is completely safe and affordable.

How to treat a UTI during pregnancy

There are some things you can do to help ease symptoms of a UTI naturally:

  1. Don’t resist the urge to pee – don’t hold it in and go as soon as you need to

  2. Drink plenty of water to flush out any bacteria

  3. Increase your intake of probiotics to restore the balance of bacteria in your gut – you can do this by eating pro-biotic yoghurt

  4. Avoid coffee, alcohol, sugary drinks or citrus juices such as orange, lemon or grapefruit

  5. Increase your intake of vitamin C by eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables

Most importantly, if your symptoms linger or if your infection returns, you should make an appointment to see a health professional.