Getting a UTI at any time is uncomfortable, but getting one while you’re pregnant will send you searching for a remedy asap! Urinary tract infections (commonly UTIs) are, in short, the bladder and urinary tract becoming inflamed. This is the result of bacteria entering the urinary tract and there’s no question when you are affected. Pain, burning, discomfort, urgency to go, and urine that is cloudy or smells unusually strong, all are signs you have a UTI.
Know that you are not alone. Your risk increases in week 6 and peaks between weeks 22 and 24. (2) An estimated 52% of women experience an UTI during their second trimester and 46% during their third. (1) Even if you feel you can deal with the discomfort, it is important to let your doctor know. There are some cases where untreated upper UTIs are associated with low birth weight, premature labor, hypertension, preeclampsia, and maternal anemia (1) The good news is that diagnosing a UTI is easy with a urine sample (ie: pee in a cup). Once your doctor has the results an antibiotic is typically prescribed.
Preventing a UTI During Pregnancy
Let’s say you want to avoid the tiny cup in the doctor’s office (at least as much as you can). There are several things you can do:
1) Focus on hygiene: the bacteria that causes 90% of all UTI cases is found in your feces so be sure you are wiping from front to back and washing on a regular basis (1).
2) Go when you gotta go! Holding your urine too long and not completely emptying your bladder you increase the risk for bacteria to grow.
3) Follow the UTI Diet below.
The UTI Diet
“Diet” may be too strong of a word in this case, however, there are specific items you can consume to help treat and prevent UTIs.
Drink Up: Six to eight cups of water a day will help keep you hydrated but will also lower your risk of developing a UTI. For an extra boost, add 4-6 ounces of unsweetened cranberry juice to your daily intake.
Limit the “extras”: Studies have shown that reducing your intake of sugary foods, sugary beverages, coffee, and tea can help prevent the development of UTIs.
Pump in the polyphenols: Research has found, diets rich in polyphenols (a type of antioxidant) can help prevent bacterial growth. Regularly add foods such as: blueberries, decaf coffee, black tea, and dark chocolate. (3)
Prevent with a prenatal: Vitamin C, Beta-carotene, and zinc have all been shown to improve your immune function (4). Taking your prenatal vitamin in addition to a balanced diet will provide plenty of these nutrients, so no need to buy individual supplements.