Every time you visit the doctor during pregnancy, you’ll be asked to give a routine urine sample. The doctor is testing the urine for bladder or kidney infections, diabetes, dehydration and preeclampsia. Specifically, the urine is tested for high levels of sugars, proteins, ketones and bacteria.
If protein is found in the urine, it’s possible there is a problem with your kidneys. Most commonly, an infection is present. Later in pregnancy, however, it can be an indication of preeclampsia.
Combined with water retention and high blood pressure, protein in the urine can lead to a diagnosis of preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a condition in which your blood pressure is abnormally high during pregnancy. Other symptoms of preeclampsia can include fatigue, abdominal pain, headaches, nausea, light sensitivity, blurred vision, shortness of breath, and infrequent urination. If you do receive a preeclamsia diagnosis and your baby is not sufficiently developed, you will be closely monitored by your doctor and advised to rest as much as possible, drink more water and limit salt. If you are close enough to your due date, your doctor may choose to deliver your baby earlier than planned.
Pregnant woman are at an increased risk for urinary tract infections, especially between weeks six and twenty-four. Painful and frequent urination is the most common symptom of a UTI. UTI’s can be safely treated with antibiotics during pregnancy. Left untreated, UTI’s can lead to kidney infections, which can lead to preterm labor and low birth weight. That is one reason why prenatal care is so important.
If your urine test comes back positive for protein, do not panic. When detected early, problems like infections or preeclampsia can be treated without causing harm to the mother or the baby. Do trust your instincts. If you feel that something is wrong, ask your doctor to follow up with a few more tests.