Your pregnancy may increase the need to deal with certain conditions that may have existed previously or developed in pregnancy. In this section, I discuss some of these conditions and their importance to your pregnancy.
An incompetent cervix is a condition in which painless stretching (dilation) of the cervix occurs prematurely. The woman usually doesn't notice it happening. Membranes may rupture without warning, and it usually results in premature delivery of the baby.
The problem is not usually diagnosed until after one or more deliveries of a premature infant without any pain before delivery. If it's your first pregnancy, you can't know if you have an incompetent cervix.
Some researchers believe the situation occurs because of previous trauma to the cervix, such as a D&C (dilatation and curettage) for an abortion or a miscarriage. It may also occur if surgery has been performed on the cervix.
Treatment for an incompetent cervix is usually surgical. Sewing the cervix shut can reinforce a weak cervix. After 36 weeks of pregnancy or when the woman goes into labor, the suture is removed and the baby can be born normally.
Urinary-Tract Infections and Bladder Infections
The terms UTI (urinary-tract infection) and bladder infection are often used interchangeably. Bladder infection refers to an infection in the bladder only, sometimes also called cystitis. UTI refers to an infection anywhere in the urethra, bladder or ureters (the tubes going from the kidney to the bladder).
You may get more bladder infections now that you are pregnant. This happens because of changes in your urinary tract. The uterus sits directly on top of the bladder and on the tubes leading from the kidneys to the bladder, called ureters. As the uterus grows, its increased weight can block the drainage of urine from the bladder, causing a bladder infection. Between 5 and 10% of all pregnant women experience bladder infections.
Usually your doctor will do a urinalysis and a urine culture at your first visit to check for bladder infection. He or she may also check your urine for infections on subsequent visits.
Symptoms of bladder infection.
Symptoms of a bladder infection include:
|burning on urination|
|feeling as though you need to urinate and nothing will come out|
|blood in your urine (with severe infection)|
A more serious urinary-tract infection is called pyelonephritis. Pyelonephritis is an infection of the urinary tract that also involves the kidneys. It occurs in 1 to 2% of all pregnant women. Pyelonephritis often begins as a bladder infection that spreads to the kidneys. The enlarging uterus blocks urine flow from the kidneys through the ureters and out of the bladder, increasing the likelihood of infection.
In addition to the symptoms of a bladder infection, symptoms of pyelonephritis include:
This condition may require hospitalization and treatment with intravenous antibiotics.
Kidney stones, also called urinary calculi, occur about once in every 1500 pregnancies. Symptoms usually include severe pain in the back and blood in the urine. In pregnancy, ultrasound is usually used to diagnose a kidney stone.
Kidney stones are usually treated during pregnancy with pain medication, antibiotics and by drinking lots of fluid or receiving I. V. s.