Contractions may be a sign of urinary tract infection

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Contractions may be a sign of urinary tract infection

Pregnant women are at increased risk of urinary tract infections and it is one of the most common pregnancy complications.

A urinary tract infection (UTI) occurs when bacteria enters the urinary tract. The kidneys and urinary tracts expand during pregnancy, causing the urine to flow slower and increasing the risk of urinary tract infections and kidney infections. Pregnant women with a urinary tract infection are treated with antibiotics as the condition may cause early labour, low birth weight and risk developing into kidney infection. Contact your midwife or the health care centre if you suspect you have a urinary tract infection

Common symptoms of urinary tract infection are:

  • Contractions. Contractions can be the first and only symptom of bacteria in the urine.
  • The need to urinate often, which is a difficult symptom to detect as most pregnant women urinate more often without having a urinary tract infection.
  • Burning pain when urinating.
  • Pain in the lower abdomen.

Testing for urinary tract infections is done through a laboratory urine culture test. Most cases can also be determined by dipstick urinalysis. Doctors prescribe antibiotics if treatment is needed. After completing the course of antibiotics, a new urine culture test is performed to ensure there is no more bacteria in the urine.

Group B streptococcus in the urine

Urinary tract infections are sometimes caused by a common streptococcus bacterium called Group B streptococcus, GBS for short. The bacterium is sometimes found in the urine culture test without the pregnant woman having symptoms of a urinary tract infection. About one third of all women are carriers of GBS without having symptoms. If GBS is found in a pregnant woman, she will be given antibiotics through an intravenous drip during labour to minimise the risk of GBS being passed on and later infecting the baby.