The blood volume increases 50% during pregnancy. Your kidneys, responsible for cleaning the blood, are called upon to work correspondingly harder, and your entire urinary system becomes more vulnerable to stress and infection. As you enter the last trimester of pregnancy, be alert for warning signs of bladder, or urinary tract, infections: an urgent and frequent impulse to urinate (often with little result), a burning sensation during urination, and a mild cramping and aching in the abdomen. Prompt treatment of early symptoms, and preventative action, are the safest course for bladder infections during pregnancy, as both herbs and medicines strong enough to cure these infections increase the stress on the kidneys and have other undesirable side effects. Non-symptomatic bladder infections discovered during routine prenatal urine sampling can be successfully treated with the stronger remedies listed last.
Preventing Bladder Infections
° Wear cotton underwear or no underwear; avoid tight polyester pants and pantyhose; bacteria thrive in the moist heat trapped by synthetic fibers.
° Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day and urinate as soon as you feel the urge; bacteria breed more easily and rapidly in concentrated and held urine.
° Wipe from front to back, and urinate after intercourse; bacteria are easily transferred to the bladder from rectum and surrounding tissues.
° Avoid bubble bath, bath oil, bath salts; bacterial growth is aided by the resulting change in normal acid/alkaline balance.
° Drink 5-10 cups of Nettle tea or infusion every week during the last trimester to strengthen the kidneys.
Remedies for Bladder Infections
° Unsweetened cranberry juice can stop a bladder infection that is just developing. The keys to successful use are 1) the juice must not be sweetened at all (no sugar, dextrose, corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, etc.); 2) the juice must be consumed liberally (an 8 ounce glass every hour for ten hours is not excessive); and 3) the juice must be started as soon as the first twinge or suspicion of infection occurs. Buy unsweetened cranberry juice or concentrate in health food stores, or prepare your own "juice" by blending a handful of fresh frozen berries with a cup of water in your blender. Sour!
° Vitamin C is helpful in acidifying the urine and "washing" out the bacteria. Doses of up to 500 mg per hour may be used. CAUTION: Large doses of vitamin C may cause loose stools.
• • Uva Ursi Arctostaphylos uva-ursi kills bacteria in the bladder. I have seen it clear up chronic bladder infections resistant to antibiotics and standard allopathic medicines. Because it is a strong diuretic, Uva Ursi requires cautious use during pregnancy. Brew one ounce of Uva Ursi leaves in a quart jar of boiling water for eight hours. Drink one cup of this infusion every twelve hours for the first two days, or in severe cases, one cup every four hours. Continue with at least one cup daily for another three days, even if the symptoms disappear sooner. Do not use Uva Ursi for more than ten days.
• Yarrow The astringency, antibacterial effect, and diuretic potency of Achillea millefolium is called for if Uva Ursi alone does not clear the bladder infection within five days. Use one half ounce Yarrow flowers and one half ounce Uva Ursi leaves in one quart of boiling water; steep 8 hours. Drink two or three cups daily for no more than five days.
CAUTION: Juniper berries, Horsetail/Shave Grass, and Buchu are contraindicated during pregnancy due to the stress they place on the kidneys.
Wise Woman Herbal for the Childbearing Year
Author: Susun S. Weed. Simple, safe remedies for pregnancy, childbirth, lactation, and newborns. Includes herbs for fertility and birth control. Foreword by Jeannine Parvati Baker. 196 pages, index, illustrations.
Retails for $14.95
Order at: www.wisewomanbookshop.com