HomePregnancyUrinary Tract Infection (UTI) during Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) during Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment


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Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are commonly caused due to bacterium- Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumonia, Proteus, Acinetobacter, Saprophyticus Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Streptococcus Grade B. 

The incidence of UTI can increase during pregnancy, and the risks of having it start from week 6 of pregnancy due to the changes in the urinary tract in pregnant women. 

Urine infection in pregnancy can be concerning as it can increase the risk of pregnancy complications, such as preterm labour and low birth weight. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 8% of pregnant women are likely to have UTIs.  

This article explores everything you need to know about urine infection in pregnancy, its symptoms, potential causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. 

What is a urinary tract infection?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common bacterial infection that can affect different parts of the urinary system, including 

  • the kidneys (pyelonephritis), 
  • Ureters, 
  • the bladder (cystitis),
  • and the urethra (urethritis). 

Sometimes UTIs come with symptoms, or sometimes they are asymptomatic. Based on research, the prevalence of symptomatic UTI in pregnant women has been 17.9%, and the asymptomatic form is 13%. 

Though more common in women than men, anyone at any age can get a UTI. UTI is one of the common concerns among pregnant women affecting nearly 1 in 10 pregnant women

UTI in pregnancy: Common signs and symptoms to look out for?

Common urine infection in pregnancy symptoms are:

  • Pain or burning sensation while passing the urine,
  • Pain during intercourse,
  • Urge to urinate more frequently than usual,
  • Urinary incontinence- urinating or urine leaking before reaching the toilet, 
  • Constant feeling of a full bladder, even after urination,
  • Mucus or blood in the urine,
  • Foul-smelling urine,
  • High fever with chills and occasional seating,
  • Frequent wake during sleep for urination,
  • To much or too less urine passage than usual,
  • Cloudy-looking urine with a strong characteristic smell,
  • Pain or pressure in the pubic region, 

One of the first signs of a UTI is a prickly sensation when urinating. However, when the urine infection advances and affects the kidneys, one may experience,

  • Severe back pain, 
  • High temperature with chills,
  • Nausea and vomiting.

If UTI infections are undetected or not treated timely, they can cause life-threatening conditions. And for a pregnant woman, undiagnosed or untreated UTI can lead to certain pregnancy complications, including preterm delivery or low birth weight. 

What are the common causes of urine infection in pregnancy?

Hormones are the prime reason for changes during pregnancy. Hormones also contribute to urinary tract changes, making pregnant women more prone to infections. Sometimes, hormonal changes can cause vesicoureteral reflux- a condition where the urine flows back from the bladder to the kidneys. 

And this may be one of the reasons for urine infection during pregnancy. During pregnancy, the urine is more likely to have more sugar, hormones, and protein which can increase the risk of a UTI. 

Also, the growing uterus sits right above the bladder and can exert pressure on the bladder, causing issues in passing urine out of the bladder. Some of the other possible causes of UTI in pregnancy include:

E.coli bacteria

Escherichia coli and other infectious bacteria are usually seen in the faeces. These bacteria move from the rectum to the urethra, causing UTIs. 

Sexual activity

Any kind of sexual activity can propagate the movement of the bacteria toward the urethra, causing urine infections. 

Streptococcus Group B bacteria

Most women have this bacteria type in their vaginal region or colon, causing UTIs. UTIs caused by this bacteria type can be passed to newborns. 

Generally, between weeks 36 and 37 of pregnancy, the obstetrician will test for the presence of this bacteria type. Positive streptococcus group B cases may require additional antibiotics during labour.

How are UTIs in pregnancy diagnosed and treated?

Diagnosis of UTI in pregnancy is a usual urine test that investigates the presence of bacteria in the urine sample. 

The obstetrician may also conduct a physical examination depending on the symptoms observed and medical history. Additional diagnostic tests include 

  • A repeat urine test with urine culture, 
  • Ultrasound imaging scans to look at the kidney’s condition.

UTI in Pregnancy: Treatment

If you are pregnant and have one or more symptoms of a UTI, you need to see the doctor immediately. Untreated urine infection during pregnancy can lead to clinical manifestations in the mother and the child. 

General treatment of UTI in pregnancy will be a three-day course of antibiotics that includes:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Ampicillin,
  • Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole,
  • Nitrofurantoin,
  • Cephalosporins.

Note: Antibiotics must be administered only with a prescription by the doctor. Certain antibiotics need to be taken according to the gestation age. 

Certain medicines like nitrofurantoin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole can cause birth anomalies and must be avoided during the first trimester, recommends the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (ACOG). However, they are safe and effective when administered during the second and third trimesters. 

Some studies also indicate that antibiotics taken a week before delivery can increase the jaundice risk in newborns. 

If the UTI in pregnancy gets advanced and affects the kidneys, treatment involves antibiotics with IV fluid interventions.

And if you are worried about antibiotic treatment during pregnancy, the 3-day course is less likely to cause any harm to the growing foetus. And the benefits of antibiotic treatments are relatively higher than the risk of having an untreated urine infection during pregnancy. 

Urine infection during pregnancy and prevention

Pregnant women must see the doctor if they experience one or more UTI symptoms. Or even without symptoms, regular checkups during pregnancy and UTI screening are necessary. Urine infection during pregnancy can be prevented, or symptoms can be reduced with lifestyle changes and home remedial care. 

Urine infection during pregnancy home remedy

  • Drink plenty of water. Water dilutes the urine and can flush out the bacteria. 
  • Drink unsweetened cranberry juice. Cranberries have special chemicals that do not allow the bacteria to adhere to the urinary tract lining, 
  • Take supplements of Vitamin C, probiotics, and cranberry pills that can help keep infections away, 
  • Urinate frequently,
  • Often wash the pubic region carefully with warm water,
  • Urinate before and after intercourse,
  • Get the necessary screening for UTIs during the pregnancy term. This can help prevent and aid the early detection of urine infection in pregnancy. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is there a risk to my baby with UTI?

UTI during pregnancy is a treatable condition. Untreated urine infections in pregnancy can increase the risk of preterm birth, high blood pressure in pregnancy, or the child can have a low weight at birth. 

  • Which fruit is good for urine infection during pregnancy?

Berries like cranberries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries protect the urinary tract lining from harmful bacteria. These berries work by preventing the sticking of bacteria to the urinary tract lining and promote urinary tract health.   

  • Which food to avoid in case of urine infection?

In case of UTI in pregnancy, avoid oily, deep-fried, spicy, and citrus foods. Refrain from having carbonated drinks and caffeine that can worsen UTI symptoms. 


UTIs are common during pregnancy and are caused by bacteria. Pregnant women who experience symptoms of UTI must seek medical assistance and take treatment. 

Without treatment, urine infections in pregnant women can lead to serious pregnancy complications. Prompt intervention can prevent possible complications. 

Regular health checkups and UTI screening during pregnancy can help prevent UTIs and detect them early. 

Srujana Mohanty
She is the Managing Editor of Cogito137, one of India’s leading student-run science communication magazines. She's been working in scientific and medical writing and editing since 2018, also associated with the quality assurance team of scientific journal editing. Majored in Chemistry with a minor in Biology at IISER Kolkata, Srujana loves doodling and watching series.


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