Is It Safe If You Have Protein In Urine While Pregnant?
When you’re pregnant, doing a urine test (dipstick) each prenatal visit is obvious and inevitable. It is mostly for protein and glucose level check as well as other matter like ketone. Is it safe if you have protein in urine while pregnant? People say that you shouldn’t have protein in your urine if your kidneys function well. However, it is normal that a random urine sample contains trace of protein. And, that is also true with pregnant women.
It’s Common If Pregnant Women Have Protein In Urine
It is common for pregnant women to have protein in urine during pregnancy. And as complicated as it is with normal people, the existence of protein in urine is due to a wide variety of cause. You may suffer from UTI, diabetes, stress, etc. And with the pregnant case? Your kidneys work harder so it may let a little of protein pass the filter. Or your urine sample is not clean enough that it contains a little bit vaginal discharge.
So, don’t worry too much if you get trace level of urine in the dipstick test or even one plus (+). But don’t assume too soon that it is safe, the protein levels may increase dramatically out of nowhere. Notice any abnormal symptoms in your body so that you can discuss with your doctor. If your protein level is high such as 3 pluses (+++), your doctor will ask for a 24 hour urine test to check the existence of any bacteria.
How Often Do You Have Urine Test?
Proteinuria test is a regular test for each prenatal visit. Which means 10 – 15 times during your pregnancy. In case you’re wondering how often you should visit a midwife while pregnant. Here’s the schedule:
- First and second trimester: monthly
- Third trimester (from week 28th): bi weekly
- From week 36th: weekly
Your protein test will be a dipstick test. All you need to do is providing urine sample (after doing some cleaning task). Midwife inserts the dipstick (it looks like a strip) into the sample and check the color changing. The protein levels is classified from + to ++++. You can ask your midwife for explanation if you don’t understand the result.
If your protein level is high, 24 hour urine test is required. And you may have blood test as well.
There are healthcare providers who don’t let you do the protein test every prenatal visit. They may forget or they may think it’s not necessary since you are just in your first or second trimester or you were being healthy and normal. That’s totally not okay. One mama has shared: “My midwives stopped doing urine samples saying they are not necessary. I ended up having Preeclampsia and no one noticed”.
Remember, ask for protein dipstick test if you’re not doing one while having prenatal visit. It is necessary, don’t be careless, you’re pregnant after all.
2 Main Causes Of Protein In Urine During Pregnancy
Here are 2 causes of protein in urine during pregnancy. They are all dangerous to your health and your baby health
According to CDC, from 2012 to 2013, about 8.65% pregnant woman get hypertensive disorders during pregnancy and Pre-eclampsia is one of them. This becomes a trend since from 1994 to 1995, the rate is about 5.73%.
Most of pregnant women who develop preeclampsia deliver healthy baby but if preeclampsia goes untreated and unnoticed, it may lead to many life-threatening complications such as eclampsia, placental abruption, HELLP syndrome, etc.
The cause of pre-eclampsia isn’t fully understood. But, it can be detected, pre-eclampsia comes with two main symptoms: high blood pressure (hypertension) and excessive amount of protein in urine (proteinuria). Other symptoms can be: feet, face, ankles swelling due to water retention; blurring vision; upper abdominal pain (just under the ribs); headache; nausea.
The only way to get rid of pre-eclampsia is to deliver the baby. If you’re having signs of pre-eclampsia, you will be closely monitored to get the right treatment and avoid complications. You may need to get ready for induced labor or C-section labor.
There’s no certain way to prevent pre-eclampsia. But some people are more at risk of having pre-eclampsia than others like:
- Being pregnant for the first time
- Age above 40
- Family history of having pre-eclampsia
- Having hypertension or kidney disease prior to pregnancy
- Being obese
However, be careful whoever you may be. If your blood pressure or protein level in urine suddenly increases after 20th weeks. You may have pre-eclampsia.
Urinary Tract Infection and Kidney Infection
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) is more common with women and more common with pregnant women. One of the causes is the enlargement of your uterus which compresses the ureters and make urine flows more difficult. Or, UTI can happen because it’s more difficult to empty your bladder while pregnant.
UTI won’t harm you or your baby if you detect and treat UTI soon. Otherwise, it’ll lead to kidney infection and chance of low birth weight or preterm labor will also increase as a result.
When you get UTI, your doctor generally prescribes antibiotics for 3 – 7 day course (mostly 7 days) which are safe for pregnant women. One remedy that you can do yourself (plus the medicine) is to drink a lot of water (2 – 3 liters) and urinate a lot.
Symptoms of UTI can be: burning sensation while urinating; frequent urge to urinate a lot; lower abdominal pain; mild fever; urine with foul smell, blood or mucus.
If you get protein in urine, it may not due to kidney failure. But if your kidney is infected or damaged somehow, protein will appear in the urine since your kidney filtration can’t do its task properly. Kidney disease are dangerous, UTI may lead to one.
Other Causes of Proteinuria
Other causes of proteinuria can be:
- Gestational obese (which can be detected by the high level of sugar through the urine test)
- Vaginal discharge (it’s common that there’s some left after wiping and appears in the urine sample)
- Other diseases you’re having
Protein in urine while pregnant can be benign since your kidneys are working hard or the urine sample is not clean enough or you’re not doing well with your pregnant diet. But, it can be signs of infection and disease such as preeclampsia and UTI which are two main causes of abnormal proteinuria during pregnancy. Be aware and don’t skip the urine dipstick test each prenatal visit.
Moms, did you find this post helpful? Let share your experiences in the comment box below.