Kidney Stones During Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Pregnancy is an exciting experience to any new mom. However, it also comes with challenges that all pregnant women have to deal with. Kidney stones are a common illness among pregnant women. They are the common cause of abdominal pain during pregnancy, especially in the second and the third trimesters. Most kidney stones can pass without treatment; however in some cases, they have shown to be too painful and induce labor, thereby needing medical help.

What Causes Kidney Stones During Pregnancy?

There are many factors which contribute to the development of kidney stones, including:

1.   Inadequate Fluid Intake

Inadequate consumption of water contributes to highly concentrated urine with high levels of minerals such as phosphorus and calcium. The nutrients are known to increase the possibility of developing kidney stones.

2.   Your Genes

The genetic makeup of an individual dictates how you respond to certain situations. Genetic factors can contribute to kidney stones formation. In families with high incidences of hypercalciuria or a situation where there is an abnormally high amount of calcium in the urine, the likelihood of developing kidney stones in pregnancy increases sharply.

3.   Bowel Irritation

Many people suffering from gastrointestinal sensitivity are prone to hypercalciuria or kidney stones because chronic inflammation of the bowels will increase the deposition of calcium ions on the kidneys and this, in turn, forms crystals.

4.   Calcium Intake

During pregnancy, women are urged to take additional calcium. Too much calcium in the system puts pressure on the kidneys, and this may result in crystal development. Moreover, during pregnancy absorption of calcium is increased because of the development of the baby, which could result in kidney stones.

5.   UTIs

Physiological changes during pregnancy increases the risk of developing kidney stones. Persistent and chronic urinary tract infections could be an indicator of kidney stones. It is imperative that if you experience such conditions discuss it with your physician.

How to Tell If You Have Kidney Stones During Pregnancy

Listen to your body during pregnancy so you can know what's going wrong in time. The quicker you can identify the symptoms, the easier it is to treat the condition. You can judge whether you have kidney stones from the following symptoms.

1.   Pain in Kidneys During Pregnancy

Kidney stones during your pregnancy is a condition that can occur any time. If you experience any pain during pregnancy, never ignore it. You can distinguish the pain caused by kidney stones because it is progressive in nature and it will gradually increase on a daily basis. The pain surrounds the first lumbar region before moving to the ureters. The pain is even accompanied with cramps and fever. During pregnancy, it is essential that you consult your physician for a better diagnosis.

2.   Blood in the Urine

Blood in the urine can signify something different. Stones move spontaneously in the kidneys, which causes the breaking of tissues and the surrounding cells. During pregnancy, there is an increase in hormonal levels and the muscles in the abdominal cavity are relaxed. The movement of the kidney stones is triggered with the availability of the easy and quick avenues to transit. 

3.   Pain During Urination

When the stones escape from the kidneys via the ureters, the process is accompanied by tenderness, and this causes an acute pain during urination. Apart from the symptoms indicated above, it is imperative that you consult your physician in case of any doubt.

How to Treat Kidney Stones During Pregnancy

In case of kidney stones, you should pay a visit to the urologist or the obstetrician. The physician can understand and see any change in the biological system as well as the development of the stones. Treatment of such a condition will depend on the trimester of the pregnancy. The best alternative in treating kidney stones in pregnancy is to look for natural remedies. Immediate treatment of the kidney stones is important to prevent any growth or infection of the bladder. Any infection may affect the unborn child’s health. However, if the sitiation is too severe, you may have to resort to the medical or even surgical treatment.

1.   Natural Remedy

  • One of the ways of alleviating kidney stones problems is to take plenty of water. This is one of the widely recommended ways because water will dilute the urine, minerals, and organic salts and helps remove small stones from the kidney to the ureters and out of the system. The recommended amount of the water that should be taken is eight glasses.
  • In addition, it is recommended that you take fruits with high water content which may include peaches, water melons, blue berries among others.
  • Moreover, it is imperative to avoid drinking commercially prepared juice, because they are made from minerals and organic salts and could worsen the situation.
  • Health and nutrition experts recommend taking lemons. Lemons are known to have a natural property of breaking down midsized kidney stones, and it opens up the ureters. Therefore, the stones can pass without much pain.

2.   Medical Treatment

Taking medication that is made of acetaminophen such as Tylenol will give you temporary relief from the pain caused by the stones. If the pain persists or there is indication of infection or preterm labor, you may need surgical intervention.

3.   Surgical Treatment

  • X-rays. X-ray is a method that can be used in determining the presence of crystals in the kidneys. However, using X-rays during pregnancy can pose a major health risk to the unborn child.
  • Ureteroscopy. Ureteroscopy is a medical procedure, which involves the passage of a tiny tube called ureteroscope via the urinary tract to the stone. This allows the doctor to examine the stone and make a medical diagnosis on how to deal with the condition. After diagnosis, instruments can be used to break up the crystals or remove them. Stones larger than 1cm can not be treated in this way.
  • Tube Placement or Stent. This is a hollow-like tube, which may be placed on the ureters, and this works by draining the urine and possibly the stones. It usually works well, and minimal or no anesthesia is used.

How to Prevent Kidney Stones During Pregnancy

  • The best way to prevent kidney stones is to take plenty of fluids.
  • It is recommended that you consult your physician in case you are feeling unusual pain in the abdominal region. 
  • Pregnant women should watch the type of foods they take and especially avoid junk foods or food that are high in monosodium chloride.
  • Take fruits and vegetables that are rich in fiber, minerals and vitamins.
  • In addition, exercise is essential during pregnancy because it helps the body to be strong and excretion of harmful substances is enhanced.

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