Urinary tract problems are incredibly common amongst new mums, so chances are you’re not alone
11 July 2019| Last updated on 11 July 2019
In fact, most women have an increased urge to urinate during pregnancy – but this is a normal response! Its often due to hormonal changes and physical pressure on the bladder.
During pregnancy as the baby grows, the enlarging uterus often causes pressure of the bladder, meaning urinary tract problems such as infections, incontinence, retention and stones all have a higher chance of occurring. However, most urinary problems will resolve on their own after delivery.
Urinary tract infections
During pregnancy, you’re more susceptible to infections. Most commonly, these infections occur in the bladder where they’re known as cystitis. Symptoms include a frequent, urgent need to urinate and a painful burning sensation when passing urine. Occasionally, an infection can travel up from the bladder to the kidneys, which can result in lower back pain on one side, a high temperature and the feeling of nausea.
Sometimes a urinary tract infection is present but causes no symptoms. Prompt treatment of urinary tract infections is especially important in pregnancy because if an infection reaches the kidneys, it can trigger early labor. If you have any symptoms of an infection, see your doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will take a urine sample to identify the type of bacteria causing the infection. Your doctor may prescribe a seven to ten-day course of antibiotics that are safe for both you and your baby.
Incontinence can present as either stress incontinence or urge incontinence. Stress incontinence causes urine to leak when you exert force for example when running or jumping – activities that stress the bladder, hence the name. Bladder pressure during the third trimester is compounded by pregnancy hormones that make your tissues and joints more elastic for delivery.
They also reduce bladder support, allowing urine to leak. About two thirds of women with stress incontinence also experience urge incontinence caused by an overactive bladder meaning you get a sudden urge to urinate.
In certain cases, your doctor may recommend using a pessary, or a device that blocks the urethra and strengthens the pelvic floor muscles. In addition, some medications can be used after pregnancy to control muscle spasms, relax an overactive bladder or strengthen the surrounding muscles. Your doctor may also recommend kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor to improve the function of your urethra.
On the flipside, you may even experience an inability to voluntarily void urine. This could be caused by infection, pressure on the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder, or due to a blockage or the ureter. Retention during pregnancy is not only an unpleasant experience but also a possible early sign of other complications such as acute renal failure. It is important to note, most cases are self-limiting, but it is important to see your doctor for proper diagnosis and management.
The anatomic and physiologic changes during pregnancy make the diagnosis and treatment of kidney stones more challenging.
Presenting signs and symptoms include:
- Lower back pain
- Urinary tract infection
- Urinary retention
- Premature labor
Your doctor will usually carry out renal imaging before deciding if they need to intervene to remove the stone.
Medcare recommends talking to your doctor if you still have urinary problems during, or up to six weeks after delivery. You should be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible to avoid long-term complications.
Authored by Dr Foroozan Khezri
Medcare Hospital Dubai