How to treat them safely
Why does it seem like you’re more prone to bladder infections while you’re pregnant? Well, pregnancy doesn’t cause bladder infections, but it does make you more at risk of developing one. That’s because pregnancy hormones cause changes in the urinary tract. “Pregnancy hormones including progesterone lead to a relaxation of the bladder’s musculature and delayed emptying. This leads to an increased risk of acquiring an infection,” explains Dr Jana Rossouw, a specialist in gynaecology and obstetrics at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town. A growing uterus also presses on the bladder and prevents it emptying completely, which creates a pool of urine where bacteria can flourish.
Generally, the same advice that applies when you’re not pregnant remains true when you’re expecting. It’s important to stay hydrated by drinking enough water daily – and this is particularly true in pregnancy. Current advice is to drink at least eight glasses of water a day – approximately 1.5L of liquids. Cranberry juice has an anti-inflammatory effect and may help prevent bladder infections – it contains a substance that prevents E.coli bacteria from sticking to the walls of the bladder – but consult your healthcare provider before taking cranberry supplements. Cranberry juice is also not a substitute for antibiotic treatment of an infection.
And it may be an old joke that pregnant women always need the toilet, but don’t try to hold it in – frequent urination is important, as is taking your time to make sure you empty your bladder completely. Needless to say, general perineal hygiene is of the utmost importance, including always wiping from the front to the back, wearing cotton underwear, and avoiding douches and strong soap. Other advice includes emptying your bladder before and after sex, and avoiding tight clothing.
A bladder infection will need treatment with antibiotics. Fortunately, many common antibiotics are safe for use during pregnancy and your