Bacterial Infections During Pregnancy

The most frequent infections in pregnant women are bacterial infections. Here we give few of those bacterial infections that are likely to occur in an expectant mother during these 9 months:

Urinary tract infection (UTI): By far, UTI is among the most common bacterial infections during pregnancy. The growth of the uterus leads to blockage of the urinary drainage, which in turn results in increased bacterial growth/colonization. The bacterial infection and inflammation of the urinary tract cause a burning sensation (while micturition/peeing), fever and chills.  Antenatal screening is generally done to rule out UTI’s and if present, it is treated by a course of oral antibiotics.

Signs of UTI:

  • Burning sensation/pain during urination
  • Frequent urination
  • Bladder tenderness/pressure in the bladder

Complications of UTI:

  • Low birth weight
  • Preterm labor
  • Kidney infection-  spreading of infection from the urinary tract to the kidneys is more critical than a UTI.  You may experience back pain, nausea, and vomiting apart from the symptoms of UTI. You and your baby may be kept under observation.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV): Another common vaginal infection of pregnancy. BV is caused by a decrease of lactobacilli in vagina along with overgrowth of commensal bacteria inside the vagina.  It is detected by a typical “fishy odor” (fish-like smell) of the vaginal discharge. Treatment is through oral antibiotics.

Complications of BV:

Group B Streptococci (GBS) infection: Asymptomatic and life-threatening infection in newborns which can also affect the mother. A  screening test is done in 35-37 weeks of gestation and If the result is positive, treatment is done by giving antibiotics at the time of labor.

Complications of GBS infection (mother):

  • Bladder infection
  • Endometriosis

Complications of GBS infection(newborn):

Chorioamnionitis: This is a bacterial infection of the chorion (outer membrane of amniotic sac) and/or the amnion (inner membrane of amniotic sac). Chorioamnionitis is a medical emergency and is generally treated with intravenous (IV) antibiotics.

Complications of chorioamnionitis (mother):

  • Heavy loss of blood
  • Bacteraemia
  • Fever
  • Uterine tenderness
  • Smelly amniotic fluid
  • Increased heart rate

Complications of chorioamnionitis(newborn):

  • Increased heart rate

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs): Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia are the commonly seen bacterial infections. It can cause preterm labor and miscarriage.



Dr. Aishwarya Rajeev has completed her MDS degree and is currently pursuing her PhD. She is an avid reader and loves to teach and write!

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