Getting pregnant is considered one of the most amazing experiences for a woman in her childbearing years. When a pregnant woman gets BV, she must not only consider her health and condition but as well as the baby inside her womb.
This article will focus on what happens when a woman gets BV during her Third Trimester pregnancy.
Is BV common for Pregnant Women?
It is a common occurrence and sometimes cannot be prevented. The CDC has estimated that there are approximately 1,080,000 pregnant women who contract BV per year.
Bacterial Vaginosis is an infection in the vagina and it commonly occurs in women during her reproductive years. This happens when there is an imbalance in the number of bacteria in the vaginal ecosystem. According to studies done, there are approximately 1 in 5 women who contract this infection during their pregnancy.
There are both good and bad bacteria in the woman’s vagina. Lactobacilli bacteria is considered a good bacteria and the most abundant in the vagina and it makes the pH of the Vagina slightly acidic. If there is a significant decrease in the number of lactobacilli it allows other bad bacteria to increase and be out of control, when this happens, Bacterial Vaginosis can occur.
BV During Pregnancy Third Trimester
What happens when a woman contracts BV during her pregnancy in the Third Trimester?
There are studies done that when a woman is pregnant when she has BV it increases her risk of preterm birth, low birth weight baby, preterm premature rupture of the membranes and uterine infection after giving birth. There are pregnant women affected with BV that ends up delivering their babies prematurely. It does not directly say if it is a complication of BV or if the infection predisposes the pregnant women to experience these complications.
Preterm Labour and Birth
Preterm Labour or Premature Labour occur when you experience regular contractions that make your cervix open before reaching 37 weeks of pregnancy.
If you give birth to your baby before your pregnancy reaches 37 weeks it is called preterm birth and the baby is considered premature. When a pregnant woman experiences preterm labor the medical team can decide whether it is better to deliver the baby early or do a cesarean section.
Symptoms of Preterm Labour
A pregnant woman who experiences these preterm labour symptoms before 37 weeks must go to the emergency room and call the doctor right away because you might have:
- Increased vaginal discharge than usual
- Vaginal discharge changes – Check if there is a watery fluid or when the vaginal discharge changes and it becomes watery, mucus and increase in blood discharge.
- Presence of blood in the vagina or spotting
- Presence of abdominal pain, cramps, and contractions that is more than 4 times in an hour
- Increased pressured in the pelvic region (Baby is pushing down in the passageway)
- Pain in the lower part of the back, take note if it is dull or rhythmic
If there are unusual symptoms felt any time during a woman’s pregnancy, make sure to call the Medical Care Provider. Prevent any possible risk or complications and be familiar with these symptoms.
What are the causes of Preterm Birth?
A pregnant woman who contracts BV in her third-trimester pregnancy can experience Preterm delivery. There are genital infections that can cause preterm delivery. Presence of bacteria in the genital tract can cause the weakening of membranes in the amniotic sac and it can cause the premature rupture earlier than the expected time.
There are instances that even when the membranes are intact, bacteria can cause infection and inflammation of the uterus and it can predispose her to experience preterm labour.
Pregnant women must be routinely checked for infections during their prenatal visit. If she has tested positive to different types of bacteria she must be treated immediately, follow-up checkup after undergoing treatment and use condoms throughout the rest of the pregnancy.
If a woman had a previous preterm delivery of her baby she must also be screened for bacterial vaginosis. If a woman is diagnosed in her third trimester and treated accordingly this reduces the possibility of preterm labour with a history of preterm birth.
Women who do not have symptoms must still go through with tests just to be sure that there is no infection in her genital tract because there are women who are asymptomatic but when tested, they are found out that they have bacterial vaginosis. The earlier diagnosis and early treatment will help prevent risks and other complications that may arise from having BV.
Low Birth Weight Baby
Low Birth Weight Baby occurs when the baby is delivered before 37 weeks. Low birth weight is a term used for babies who are born less than 2500 grams. Average newborn babies usually weigh 8 pounds.
Preterm Premature Rupture Of The Membranes
This occurs when the water breaks before you actually go into labor.
What are the signs of PPROM? It is the sudden gush of fluids from the vagina just like when the amniotic sac breaks, sometimes it is characterized by the wet feeling and there is a presence of trickle of fluids in the vagina.
Uterine Infection After Delivery
If a pregnant woman acquired BV during her pregnancy, she is at risk of having a uterine infection after giving birth to her baby because the bacteria can invade and affect other parts of the reproductive system. A pregnant woman is also at risk of having PID, which is the infection of the reproductive organs.
How BV affects a pregnant woman?
There are women who have normal pregnancies even if they have BV and there are some cases of BV in pregnant women that did not require treatment and resolved on their own. If a woman has BV, she is susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases. A woman is pregnant she can also get PID but it rarely happens.
What are the symptoms of BV?
Half of the women’s populations who acquire BV usually do not exhibit any symptoms. If there are symptoms, there is thin white or gray vaginal discharge and has a foul fishy odour. The odour is more evident after having sex especially when the discharge mixes with semen. There is also a burning sensation when urinating and there is irritation in the genital area.
If a pregnant woman does not have any symptoms does she need to be screened for BV?
If a pregnant woman is considered as low risk for premature delivery and do not exhibit any symptoms and have a low-risk chance of giving birth prematurely she will not be required to be screened for BV, however, I think it is better that BV screening is done. Always remember that prevention is better than cure.
When a pregnant woman is diagnosed with BV, antibiotics are prescribed to clear the infection and this will lower the chance of having a premature delivery.
What happens if a pregnant woman is at high risk for premature delivery?
When a pregnant woman does not have symptoms of BV but considered to be high risk for preterm delivery, the medical care provider can screen her during the first prenatal visit. It is highly recommended to screen for high-risk women.
Vaginal odours and discharge during a woman’s pregnancy increases once a woman is pregnant. It is caused by high levels of oestrogen; however, it can also increase due to the presence of infection.
How to prevent BV?
There is no definitive preventive thing a woman can do to protect herself from acquiring BV, here are some of the ways that can help reduce the risk of getting BV.
- Practice safe sex – It is more common in women who have multiple sex partners and new sex partners. It is also common in women who have same-sex partners.
- Avoid smoking cigarettes – It increases your risk for BV.
- Avoid vaginal douching and using feminine sprays and scented feminine wipes – Using these products creates an imbalance of the bacteria in the vagina. Douching when pregnant is not a safe practice. Douching can force air into the amniotic sac and can possibly enter the blood circulation of the pregnant woman. If this occurs, there is a high chance air embolism can happen and this is a life-threatening incident that must be avoided at all costs.
What are the treatments available for pregnant women with bacterial vaginosis?
Treatment for pregnant women with BV
When a pregnant woman is diagnosed with BV, she will be prescribed with a course of treatment; it usually includes antibiotics that are safe to take even when pregnant. The woman must take all the medicine even when the symptoms have gone away. Taking the whole dosage prescribed by the medical care provider will help clear up the infection in the vagina and will deal with the different symptoms; however, there are instances that the infection can recur.
According to some studies done, there are 30 percent of women infected with BV can have symptoms again after 3 months of treatment. When taking antibiotics, it will deal with the bacteria that cause the infection but you will need the “good” bacteria in order to help control the recurring of the infection. Taking probiotics is highly recommended. You must inform your Medical care provider once the symptoms of BV come back after a few months.
Treatment with antibiotics is highly recommended to avoid the risk of preterm delivery and labour.
Here are some of the treatments available:
- Oral Medications – Clindamycin 300 mg twice a day for 7 days
Metronidazole 500 mg twice a day for 7 days
- Topical Medications – Clindamycin 5 grams
Metronidazole 5 grams during bedtime for 5 days
Using topical medications help relieve symptoms however there are times it is not enough to prevent risks and complications when pregnant.
A pregnant woman in her third trimester can have BV and this may predispose her from having preterm labour, uterine infection after delivery, premature rupture of membranes and low birth weight of the baby. When a pregnant woman is diagnosed with BV, she must immediately consult her Medical care provider for a course of treatment so it can prevent the worsening of symptoms and risks and complications that may also affect her baby’s health. Once prescribed with medications whether oral or topical she must complete the dosage so it will help clear the symptoms.
Using natural and home remedies for Bacterial vaginosis can also help clear the symptoms; however, you must consult your Attending physician which remedy is advisable for pregnant women. Always consider your baby’s health before trying treatments to get rid of BV.