It is common for pregnant women to have a minimal amount of protein in the urine. But doctors usually ask the moms, especially those who are high risk, to pee in a cup during their regular visits to determine and prevent a bad outcome.
Many factors may cause the increase of protein in urine for a mother's changing body. However, for a mom who is on the 20th week of pregnancy and beyond, a high protein level is a cause for worry if her blood pressure is also elevated. This condition may indicate preeclampsia, which may complicate the pregnancy and lead to fatal outcomes if not managed well.
When to Worry About Preeclampsia
According to Parents, protein in urine is generally higher when pregnant and could measure from 150 to 300 milligrams per day. Beyond 300, however, then protein is a cause for concern and should be monitored or kept an eye on.
If a pregnant mother has high blood pressure coupled with headaches and excessive weight gain, Dr. Alice Abernathy of the University of Pennsylvania advised undergoing a urine test to check for the protein-to-creatinine ratio. If this ratio is elevated, another urine collection within 24 hours may be requested for another round of tests to determine preeclampsia.
If the doctor has confirmed it is preeclampsia, it's best to discuss the best time to deliver the baby. Dr. Abernathy said an early diagnosis of this condition would help cut down the risks. In most cases, waiting for the pregnancy to go "full term" is not always the best course since the mother's health risks increase as the weeks roll. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most effective treatment of preeclampsia is giving birth to the baby.
Pregnant moms who have a history of high blood pressure should also discuss taking baby aspirin to manage hypertension. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends a daily intake of this low-dose medication for high-risk mothers around the 12th week of pregnancy.
When It's Not Preeclampsia
Reducing protein in urine while pregnant has no actual solutions except vigilantly monitoring the level and the other health changes that the mother experiences while pregnant. If the test for protein in urine doesn't indicate preeclampsia, there may be other underlying health issues that the expectant mom and the doctors have to address. It's possible that the mother's kidney might not be functioning properly due to diet changes, dehydration, fever, and stress (physical and emotional). According to health experts, it is extremely rare for pregnant mothers to have kidney failure due to their delicate state.
An elevated protein level could also indicate urinary tract infection (UTI), and pregnant women experience this more because of the added pressure to their bladder and urinary tract. Studies show that some 2 to 10 percent of pregnant women may develop UTI. While pregnant, other UTI symptoms, aside from the protein in the urine, include frequent and painful urination, lower back or pelvic pain, blood in the urine, fever, and nausea. Treatment will usually entail antibiotics that should be adhered to and properly completed.
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