Pregnancy has its ups and downs, and different women experience different types of problems.
One common problem during pregnancy is urinary tract infections (UTIs), also known as bladder infections. This type of infection occurs when bacteria causes the urinary tract to become inflamed.
The problem usually starts after the sixth week of pregnancy, occurring as the growing baby puts more pressure on the bladder. The increasing pressure prevents the bladder from emptying completely, which leads to bacteria getting trapped in the urinary tract and ultimately causing an infection.
Apart from the physical changes in your body, several factors can lead to a UTI during pregnancy. Such factors include bacteria from the bowel, intercourse, a history of recurring UTIs, maternal diabetes, sickle cell disease, kidney disease, and previous urinary tract surgery.
When suffering from a UTI during pregnancy, you can experience symptoms like a burning sensation during urination, frequent trips to the bathroom to urinate, an intense urge to urinate while the amount of urine expelled is small, cloudy and smelly urine, a low-grade fever, lower-abdominal pain or discomfort, and nausea, and vomiting.
It is important to treat a UTI right away. An untreated infection could turn into a kidney infection, triggering preterm labor and causing your baby to have a low birth weight.
Most UTIs during pregnancy are treated with a course of antibiotics that are pregnancy-safe but still effective in killing the bacteria.
Apart from antibiotics, there are many things you can do to help treat the infection and ensure a safe pregnancy.
Here are the top 10 ways to treat a urinary tract infection during pregnancy.
When suffering from a UTI, it is important to drink enough water every day. Water intake will make you urinate more. The increase in bathroom visits helps flush bacteria out of the urethra, which helps you recover faster.
Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day, or more if you sweat a lot or live in a hot climate.
Apart from water, drinking fresh fruit and vegetable juices as well as eating fruits and vegetables with high water content will help keep the body hydrated and increase urination.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is useful for getting rid of many pregnancy-related problems, including a UTI. It is a rich source of enzymes that can prevent the bacteria that cause UTIs from multiplying or growing.
Plus, apple cider vinegar can regulate your body’s pH balance.
- Add 2 tablespoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to a glass of water.
- Optionally, add lemon juice and sweeten it with a little honey.
- Mix it well.
- Drink this twice a day for a few days.
3. Cranberry Juice
During pregnancy, you can drink pure cranberry juice with no added sugar to prevent UTIs.
There are several compounds in cranberries that prevent bacteria from adhering to the urinary tract, thus preventing an infection.
- Mix together equal amounts of unsweetened cranberry juice and apple juice. Drink it once or twice daily.
- If you wish to take cranberry pills or capsules, consult your doctor first.
4. Greek Yogurt
When suffering from a UTI during pregnancy, you must try to eat 1 to 2 cups of Greek yogurt daily.
Being a probiotic food, Greek yogurt can boost the growth of good bacteria in the urinary tract and promote a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut.
Also, eating Greek yogurt helps improve your digestive health and enhance your immune system functioning.
5. Indian Gooseberry
Indian gooseberry, also known as amla, is a rich source of vitamin C and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria that cause UTIs.
Also, Indian gooseberry offers other benefits during pregnancy. It helps relieve constipation, normalize your blood pressure, reduce morning sickness, and purify your blood, to name a few.
- Add 1 teaspoon each of Indian gooseberry and turmeric powder to 1 cup of water.
- Boil the solution until half the water evaporates.
- Allow it to cool for some time.
- Drink the solution 3 times a day for 3 to 5 days.
Blueberries have bacteria-inhibiting properties that can help treat a UTI during pregnancy.
Blueberries are also filled with vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, folic acid, and antioxidants, all of which help build your baby’s healthy skin cells and immune system.
- Add fresh blueberries to your favorite cereal and have it for breakfast.
- Also, drink a glass of fresh blueberry juice twice daily, in the morning and at night, for quick results.
7. Warm Compress
Applying a warm compress on the abdomen can help minimize bladder pressure or discomfort. A warm compress also helps reduce inflammation as well as preventing the growth of the bacteria that cause the infection.
Unlike a hot tub or sauna, using a warm compress will not raise your core body temperature, which can be harmful to the unborn baby.
- Put some hot water in a flexible water bottle.
- Wrap the bottle in a thin towel.
- Apply the warm compress on your lower abdomen (over your clothing) for 5 minutes.
- Take a break of 5 minutes and repeat again. Do it for no longer than 20 minutes.
- Repeat once or twice a day.
8. Good Bathroom Habits
Good bathroom habits can play a key role in preventing and treating UTIs during pregnancy. It is also important to urinate before and after having sex.
When pregnant and suffering from a bladder infection, you may have to visit the bathroom every 5 minutes. No matter how irritating it sounds, it’s important to never hold in your urine. As soon as you get the urge to pee, use the bathroom. Be sure to completely expel your urine, too.
After using the washroom, wipe properly by going front to back.
Do not use feminine hygiene products as well as harsh soaps or body washes in the genital area, as they can cause irritation to an already vulnerable area.
Wear underwear made out of a breathable fabric like cotton to help keep the genital area dry, as bacteria thrive in moisture.
9. Vitamin C
Eating more foods rich in vitamin C during pregnancy is healthy for both you and your baby. It can also help protect against or treat UTIs.
Vitamin C increases the acidity of the urine, which in turn helps destroy the bacteria that cause the infection. Also, this vitamin helps keep your immune system strong.
A 2007 study published in Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica found that daily intake of 100 mg of ascorbic acid played an important role in the reduction of urinary infections, improving the health of gestating women.
Good sources of vitamin C include red peppers, oranges, grapefruit, guava, strawberries, parsley, kale, broccoli, and kiwis.
If you want to take a supplement, always consult your doctor first.
10. Healthy Diet
A healthy and well-balanced diet can help a lot in treating a UTI during pregnancy. A healthy diet also ensures that the baby growing inside you gets all the necessary nutrients required for healthy development.
Eat more whole foods in place of overly refined or processed foods. Consume more antioxidant-rich foods, such as blueberries, oranges, spinach, cherries, tomatoes, and squash.
Include more yogurts that contain active cultures or other probiotic foods in your diet to help restore the balance of beneficial bacteria in your system.
Avoid foods that contain a lot of sugar. Sugar can inhibit white blood cells from fighting off bacteria that cause UTIs. Also, avoid anything that contains caffeine as well as chocolate, as these substances can irritate the bladder and cause inflammation.
- Take showers instead of baths.
- Avoid wearing underwear or pants that are too tight.
- Do not have intercourse while you are being treated for a UTI.
- Change your underwear and pantyhose every day.
- Avoid drinks like coffee, alcohol, and soft drinks containing citrus juice or caffeine, which may irritate the bladder.
- Cross your ankles instead of your legs when you sit.
- Do not take any medicine or supplements during pregnancy without consulting your doctor first.