Am I more prone to bladder infections now that I'm pregnant?

Q: I've had a few bladder infections over the past several years. Now that I'm pregnant, am I likely to have more?

A: Pregnancy itself doesn't put you at risk for urinary tract infections (UTIs), but your history does. According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, close to 20 percent of women who have one infection will suffer another. Of those, 30 percent will experience at least one more. "Women with predispositions to UTIs are the ones who tend to have them during pregnancy," says Angelica Zaid, M.D., an OB-GYN at Women's Integrative Health Center in Encinitas, Calif. Because UTIs raise your risk for preterm labor and kidney infections, OBs typically screen for them by doing a urine dip at each prenatal visit. There's another reason that screening is routine: "The symptoms in pregnancy are silent," Zaid says. "Urinary frequency and urgency, which are the hallmarks of UTIs, are also a normal part of being pregnant, so women don't notice them." If you have bacteria in your urine, you'll be given antibiotics. Your doctor may even treat you preventatively with antibiotics throughout your pregnancy if you're predisposed to UTIs. Zaid says some women have luck heading off UTIs by taking cranberry extract tablets. Emptying the bladder after intercourse is a good idea as well. She doesn't recommend cranberry juice, as the sugar in it is a bladder irritant.