What You Need to Know About Postpartum UTIs

3 min read

postpartum UTIs

While you’re pregnant, your number one concern is always delivering a safe and healthy baby, of course. Naturally, with all the preparation and worry we dedicate to our unborn babies, there’s very little brain space left to think about what happens to our own bodies after your baby is born.

One of the most common postpartum issues that we face with our own bodies is urinary tract infections or UTIs. While these are something that many women get, that doesn’t make them any less painful.

It’s important that we recognize the signs and symptoms of these so that they can be remedied immediately, and you can get back to feeling like yourself so you can get in all the baby snuggles you need.

What causes postpartum UTIs?

Women’s bodies in the fourth trimester are going through all sorts of changes. You did just give birth, after all. One of the main changes is the possible introduction of new bacteria into the body. Bacteria is the main cause of postpartum UTIs.

Here are a few ways that bacteria can make its way into the body after giving birth:

  • Using a catheter during surgical procedures, such as a Caesarean Section
  • Using sanitary pads after delivery
  • Not urinating before and after intercourse
  • Forgetting to urinate when necessary

Signs and symptoms of postpartum UTIs

In my own experience, I had a lot of “why didn’t I know about this” moments, once I was home from the hospital and didn’t have medical staff on call to answer all of my weird questions. There were also a lot of new and unusual aches and pains related to childbirth that I didn’t know would or could happen, or if they were normal or not.

During early postpartum, you may find yourself urinating frequently. This is usually just your body getting rid of excess fluid. If you experience other symptoms, notify your provider immediately.

You’re not alone in experiencing any of the discomfort associated with UTIs postpartum. Whenever I’m nervous to bring something up with my doctor, I always remind myself, “she’s seen worse.”

There’s really nothing you can mention that your doctor hasn’t seen or heard before, so don’t be shy. If you’re experiencing any of these UTI symptoms, and they don’t seem to be getting any better, it’s time to seek medical attention:

  • Back pain: Either in the lower back, abdomen or both
  • Discolored urine: Especially dark or clouded
  • Urine odor: Strange or different odor
  • Overly Tired: More fatigued than the usual “I just had a baby” feeling
  • Fever: This cannot go ignored, fever in this situation usually means the infection has moved on to the kidneys.
  • Frequent urge to urinate: Needing to urinate more often than usual.

The American Pregnancy Association cautions that this is a diagnosis that can only be made by a medical professional, and the sooner you go, the better.

Treatment for postpartum UTIs

There’s really no quick remedy that can get rid of a UTI right away. But, once you visit the doctor he or she will prescribe you an antibiotic to clear out any of the bacteria. The medical professionals at the Mayo Clinic note that there are many options when it comes to medicines for treating UTIs, so there’s one that will work for you. It’s really important that you take care of a UTI right away, or it could move into your kidneys and cause a very painful kidney infection.

While you’re waiting on that antibiotic to kick in and get you back to your baby, try some of these to alleviate some of the pain you’re feeling.

  • Stay hydrated: Drink as much water as you can possibly handle, and then drink some more.
  • Eat garlic: It can help get rid of bacteria.
  • Pee more: Going to the restroom more often to make sure the bacteria is being flushed out.

How to prevent postpartum UTIs

If this is something that you’re concerned about, or if you have a history of UTIs, there are some preventative measures you can take. Try these options:

  • We can’t stress this point enough, drink enough water.
  • Take a urinary health supplement, like Uqora.
  • Don’t try to hold off on using the restroom, when you feel the urge, take care of it right away.

While you can prevent UTIs after you have a baby, it’s still important to recognize the symptoms, just in case one does pop up. Now that you know what to look for and when you need to seek medical help, you can relax and take care of your amazingly adorable newborn. Just don’t forget to take care of yourself, too.

About the Author

Caitlin Goodwin MSN, RN, CNM is a Certified Nurse-Midwife, clinical instructor and educator. She has ten years of nursing experience and enjoys blogging about family travel and autism in her free time.

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