Kidney Stones and Your Pregnancy
A pregnant woman will expect sharp, debilitating pain at some point. Contractions are the price you pay to bring your precious little one into the world. But nobody is expecting that sharp, debilitating pain to come from kidney stones.
Though it is a rare problem among pregnancy women, kidney stones in pregnancy are a real issue for some women.
Whether you are susceptible to kidney stones and want to plan ahead or if you just realized you have a stone while pregnant, I want to give you a full run down on everything you need to know.
Let’s talk about some of the reasons why you may be developing kidney stones while you are pregnant.
- You are not drinking enough water: The less water you have, the more concentrated your urine is with stone-forming elements like calcium oxalate. Drink, drink, and drink.
- You are predisposed: The truth is your genes do play a big in role in whether or not you develop kidney stones in your lifetime. If you have relatives with stones (especially relatives who have had stones while pregnant), your chances can definitely go up.
- You have UTIs: One common cause of kidney stones is a urinary tract infection. Though kidney stones are rare in pregnant women, UTIs are definitely way more common.
- You get too much calcium: Calcium is such an important building block to a healthy body and a healthy pregnancy. You should absolutely be consuming it regularly. But be careful with overconsumption, considering a pregnant body will absorb more calcium. Talk to your doctor/nutritionist if you are concerned about finding the right balance.
If you are finding yourself with some UTI troubles while you are pregnant – or if you have any of these other causes – talk to your doctor about your kidney stone risk and ways to prevent the issue in the first place (we will get to prevention tips later!)
Diagnosing a kidney stone is normally fairly easy. You feel some symptoms, and your doctor may run a test like a CT scan to see what is going on. But when you are pregnant, running certain tests can be dangerous for the fetus.
This means you will need to be very aware of all your symptoms and report them to the doctor, so he or she can come up with the best diagnoses.
Kidney stone symptoms while expecting will normally be exactly the same as any other kidney stone.
The hallmark symptom of kidney stones is pain, which you will often find…
You may also experience:
- Blood in the urine (often this means it looks pink, red, or brown)
- Cloudy urine
- Foul-smelling/different-smelling urine
- Urination frequency
- Small amounts of urine
These other symptoms are typically quite similar to a urinary tract infection. If you have these symptoms without the intense pain, you may have a UTI. But if you have the pain listed above, you should see your doctor about a kidney stone.
Sometimes, kidney stones warrant immediate medical attention. If you ever have any of these severe symptoms – especially when you are pregnant – you need to go to the hospital right away:
Passing the stone naturally
Many times the “watch and wait” method is prescribed for kidney stones. This may be the course of action your doctor takes when you are pregnant to see if you can avoid any sort of medical intervention.
In this case, you will want things that help pass the stone naturally.
Normally my first suggestion for passing your kidney stone safely and quickly would be to recommend taking Chanca Piedra as a supplement. This is an herb translated as “stone breaker.”
But there are some studies that show Chanca Piedra may be unsafe for pregnant women – leading to issues like low fetal weight and birth defects. Definitely talk to your doctor before you take this herb.
There are still some natural ways you can aid the passing process.
- Drink water: This step is #1. The more water you drink, the easier time you will have passing the stone.
- Apple cider vinegar: ACV has been shown to help break up stones more quickly. Add a teaspoon or two to a glass of water a couple times each day.
Of course, you should be monitoring your symptoms closely during the “watch and wait” time. If anything too severe arises, head to your doctor where you can talk about further treatment options.
One of the biggest differences between kidney stones while pregnant and kidney stones any other time is the treatment. Things that may be otherwise perfectly safe could put the baby at risk.
The top kidney stone treatment options for when you are pregnant will probably be:
- Utereroscopy (Tube goes through the urinary tract, then stone can be broken up and removed)
The kidney stone treatment options your doctor will most likely avoid will probably be:
- Shockwave therapy
- Open surgery under anesthesia
If you are concerned about what treatment to pursue, always include your pediatrician/OBGYN in the discussion with your urologist.
Outside of altering some of your treatment options, there are some complications that can arise.
Kidney stones can be a cause of premature birth, as well as preeclampsia.
That is why it is imperative to stay on top of your symptoms, explore all of your options, and be in close contact with your urologist and your OBGYN/pediatrician.
Ways to prevent kidney stones while pregnant
Ultimately, the best way to deal with a kidney stone while pregnant is not to get one in the first place. If you are concerned about the possibility, follow these tips for prevention:
- Drink enough water
- Limit animal protein
- Get enough B vitamins
- Eat plenty of fiber
Stones and your pregnancy
To wrap up our discussion, I want to leave you with this short, but informative video from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center talking about stone complications and safe treatment while pregnant:
This information is here on the off chance that you develop a stone while you are expecting. Remember this is a rare occurrence. It definitely should not concern you unless you know you are extremely susceptible to stones.