We’re here to tell you why it happens—and how you can avoid a pesky UTI.
As the holiday season approaches, you may be making festive plans with family and friends. Unfortunately, pregnancy can complicate almost any activity. With the possibility of interminable road trips, non-stop seasonal eating and exhausting shopping excursions, one aspect of pregnancy may seem even more daunting than usual—your overactive bladder.
An overactive bladder is perhaps one of the most frustrating side effects of pregnancy. Not only do you have to visit the bathroom constantly—as often as every half hour and possibly more often at night—but you also might experience incontinence while laughing, coughing or exercising. And these side effects aren’t merely an inconvenience—they carry with them the increased risk of a urinary tract infection, commonly known in the medical community (and amongst pregnant women)as a UTI.
More frequent urination may begin before you even know you’re pregnant, and there is little relief for the duration of your pregnancy. The cause is the increase of blood in your body, which results in more fluids in your bladder. When you lie down at night, fluids from your legs travel into your bladder, thereby maintaining (if not increasing) your level of urination. Another cause is the growth of the uterus. As the baby grows, the uterus pushes down on the bladder, making the gotta-go factor urgent.
This pressure from the uterus is one of the reasons pregnant women are more susceptible to UTIs. Because the uterus prevents the bladder from completely emptying itself, the urine left in the bladder can contaminate the urinary tract with bacteria. Hormonal changes also make an expecting mom more vulnerable to infection.
If you do find yourself with a UTI, it can be treated easily with antibiotics, which usually kick in pretty quickly. However, if the infection is not treated, it could lead to a serious kidney infection or, worse case scenario, preterm labor.
There’s not much you can do about frequent urination, but there are lots of things you shouldn’t do, like limiting your fluids in order to urinate less. Not getting enough fluids can actually increase your chances of developing a UTI, while drinking plenty of fluids helps to prevent infection. However, cutting back on fluids a few hours before you go to bed may provide some relief at night while you are trying to sleep. Additionally, you may want to steer clear of beverages that have a diuretic effect, meaning they increase the rate of urination. These include caffeinated drinks such as coffee, tea and soft drinks.
Other forms of relief include muscular tricks, such as leaning forward when urinating in order to completely empty the bladder. Kegel exercises also help to eliminate incontinence and strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
For the most part, though, it’s best not to fight the constant urge to tinkle. This frustrating, but normal, reality of pregnancy will happily go away shortly after you give birth. Besides, you might find that constantly running to the bathroom helps to keep off the holiday pounds!
Take note: Drinking cranberry juice can’t cure an existing UTI, but it can reduce your risk of developing one. Cranberry juice has been proven to reduce bacteria levels and prevent new bacteria from building up in the urinary tract. A glass a day keeps the antibiotics away, so drink up!