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Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) During Pregnancy

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) During Pregnancy

With all the amazing things to think about when you’re pregnant — like baby names or nursery decorations — one thing you don’t want to have your mind on is your bladder. However, urinary tract infections are a common occurrence in pregnancy, affecting around 1 out of 10 moms-to-be.  Find out how to recognize and treat them below — as well as why a urinary tract infection or UTI during pregnancy is so important to clear up.

What is a Urinary Tract Infection?

Your urinary tract consists of two kidneys connected to your bladder by tubes called ureters. The kidneys form urine as they filter out your blood and this travels down to the bladder. Once there, it exits your body through another tube called the urethra when you go to the bathroom.  When bacteria enters the urethra and starts to grow there, this is termed a  urinary tract infection or UTI.

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What Causes a UTI During Pregnancy?

There are multiple causes of urinary tract infections, including:

  • Sex. One of the most common culprits, sex (especially when vigorous) can cause bladder inflammation and make an infection more likely.
  • Improper hygiene.  If you do not wipe from front to back after you go to the bathroom, bacteria from your stool can enter into the urethra and cause an infection.  This is also very common.
  • Placement of a catheter. A catheter is a thin rubber tube placed in your bladder to help drain urine.  Catheters put you at a greater risk for urinary infection since bacteria can easily spread up the catheter and into the urinary tract.

To make matter more difficult, physical changes that take place in your body during pregnancy also make you more vulnerable to UTI’s.  For one thing, higher progesterone levels relax the muscles around the urethra and make it easier for bacteria to get in.  Also, as the pregnancy progresses, the uterus can put pressure on the bladder and make it hard to empty the bladder entirely.  Urine that stays in the bladder longer than it should is major risk factor for infection.

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What are the Symptoms of a UTI?

Fortunately, the symptoms of a UTI during pregnancy are usually easy to spot.  They can include:

  • Feeling an increased urge to urinate
  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Difficult urination
  • Bloody, cloudy or smelly urine
  • Pain in the pubic area or lower back

What are Ways Women can Treat and Prevent a UTI?

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, it is very important to report this to your doctor at once. He or she will usually take a urine sample and then put you on an antibiotic such as amoxicillin or penicillin.  It is very important to treat a UTI during pregnancy because, if left unchecked, you can develop an infection in the kidneys (called pyelonephritis) or in your bloodstream (called sepsis). These can be potentially life-threatening for you and your child and can cause preterm labor or a low birth weight.

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The good news? There are lot of things you can do to prevent a UTI from happening to begin with! They include:

  • Drinking at least 8 8-ounce glasses of water a day. This will keep you hydrated and prevent infection by making sure your urinary tract is flushed out.
  • Drinking cranberry juice.  Cranberry juice makes your urine more acidic and prevents the growth of bacteria.  Make sure to get 100% pure cranberry juice and not a juice mix in order for it to be effective.
  • Wiping from front to back.  This helps prevent bacteria from your stool from entering into your urethra.
  • Practicing good sex hygiene.  Again, sex is a common culprit for UTI’s.  In order to reduce this risk, make sure to empty your bladder before and after sex, use a water-based lubricant if you are experiencing some vaginal dryness and wash with warm water before sex.
  • Avoiding strong soaps, bubble baths and similar products.  Strong dyes or perfumes in your soap, bubble bath or other personal care product can irritate your urethra and vaginal area and make it more likely for an infection to begin.
  • Saying “no” to douching. Forget the commercials! Douching is not a good hygiene practice and is actually very bad for you. It changes the pH balance of your vaginal area and increases your risk for UTI’s – as well as problems like vaginal yeast infections.
  • Choosing your clothing with care.  Tight-fitting clothing can also increase your UTI risk: where looser-fitting clothing instead and make sure to wear cotton underwear, which also for better air flow to the area and discourages bacterial growth.

So now you have the low-down on urinary tract infections — and why they are so important to treat, especially when you are pregnant and wanting to protect not just your health but the health of your unborn baby. The good news is, however, that they are simple to treat once they are detected and there are many ways you can prevent them from happening in the first place.

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Brian Wu

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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