Kidney Stones During Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Kidney Stones During Pregnancy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Kidney stones during pregnancy are a leading health concern and a major reason for extreme pain in pregnant women. The pain of kidney stones is often described to rival the pain of giving birth. Kidney stones during pregnancy are rather common and can pose a challenge both in terms of diagnosis and treatment. Facts about Kidney stones during pregnancy

  • Occur in about 1 of 3300 pregnancies.
  • Women who had previously delivered a child are more commonly affected than those expecting their first child.
  • Most women with stones experience kidney stone problems in the 4th to 6th months of pregnancy.
  • They are more common in obese women.
  • They occur more frequently in pregnant women who are between 30-50 years of age.

Causes of Kidney Stone during Pregnancy:

  • Insufficient fluid intake: This is the leading cause of kidney stones, whether one is pregnant or not. Insufficient fluid intake makes the urine more concentrated and full of minerals, especially calcium and phosphorous. These calcify to from kidney stones.
  • Genetic factors: Genetic factors predispose individuals to kidney stones. Some families have a tendency towards ‘hypercalciuria’, an abnormally high amount of calcium in the urine. Women of these families have a higher likelihood of developing kidney stones during pregnancy.
  • Increased Calcium intake: During pregnancy, women are recommended extra doses of calcium. Extra calcium puts pressure on the kidneys, and this may calcify and result in crystal development. Moreover, during pregnancy absorption of calcium is also increased because of the development of the baby, which could result in kidney stones.
  • Bowel Irritation: People who suffer from gastrointestinal sensitivity are prone to kidney stones because chronic inflammation of the bowels increases the likelihood of depositing calcium on the kidneys which in turn forms crystals or kidney stones.

Symptoms of Kidney Stone during Pregnancy:

  • Pain: It is the most common symptom of kidney stones. Once the stone moves down to the urethra (urinary tube), the pain in the lower part of the abdomen is intense. Severe pain is also experienced while passing urine.
  • Blood in the urine.
  • Nausea and occasional vomiting.

Treatment of Kidney Stones during Pregnancy:

Pregnancy is a delicate time in which having a kidney stone can present additional challenges. The treatment, therefore, aims to minimise the pain and associated symptoms in the mother, while not risking the baby. The kidney should also not be damaged and the stone should be eliminated. Read: 11 Ways To Prevent Urinary Tract Infection In case a pregnant woman experiences abdominal pain due to a kidney stone, it is advisable to seek medical help rather than administer painkillers at home. At the hospital, the pain is controlled and fluids are given simultaneously as kidney stone pain is often accompanied by nausea and vomiting which could lead to dehydration. The doctors will carefully evaluate which painkillers can safely be given without harming the baby. If there are signs of infection, antibiotic treatment might be necessary. Again, the doctors will carefully choose an antibiotic which is safe for the developing baby.

Medical treatment the doctor could advise for Kidney Stone:

  • Hospitalization and Bedrest
  • Painkillers / Analgesics
  • IV fluids to avoid dehydration due to nausea and vomiting
  • Anti-nausea / vomiting medication
  • Antibiotics
If the doctor recommends surgery, one of the following procedures could be opted for based on the doctor’s diagnosis:
  • Ureteroscopy: A thin tube-like telescope is passed into the ureters via the urinary bladder. This process diagnoses (identifies) and removes stones at the same time. This method is preferred as it is a single procedure for diagnosis and treatment without complications.
  • Ureteral stent placement: This procedure is used to relieve the obstructed urine from the kidney. In this procedure, a hollow, soft tube is placed into the ureter which temporarily helps relieve the obstruction and the drain out the urine. These stents are a temporary method used to delay treatment in case of pregnant women till after delivery and have to be replaced every 2 to 3 months.
  • Percutaneous nephrostomy: A small tube is placed into the kidney through the skin. This helps with quick decompression of the kidney, rapid control of pain and resolution of the infected enlarged kidney. This is only a procedure to relieve the pain till the time is right to perform further procedures to eliminate the stone. This process does not help in the removal of the stone.
Read: How much weight gain is normal during pregnancy?

Natural Treatment for Kidney Stones:

Making a few changes in your diet will speed up the elimination of the kidney stone. They may work in eliminating small kidney stones and formation of kidney stones in the future, but medical attention is required for pregnant women in pain.
  • Drink plenty of water and other fluids to help dilute minerals and salts in the urine. This alone can help small kidney stones to pass through the urethra.
  • Eat plenty of fruits which have a high water content - watermelons, apples, peaches, and berries
  • Lemons are also recommended as lemon juice is full of natural citrate which is used to treat kidney stones. However, drink natural lemonade without added sugar or salt.
Read:  7 Useful Home Remedies to Cure Cough and Cold during Pregnancy

Food precautions to be taken in case kidney stone:

  • Completely avoid packaged juices and aerated drinks because of their high sugar content.
  • Limit intake of salt and sugar.
  • Avoid alcoholic drinks.
In case it is suspected that a pregnant woman has kidney stones, the advisable course of action is to seek immediate medical attention. DO NOT try administering medicines at home or any home remedies as they can pose a risk to both the child and the mother. Though alarming and extremely painful, kidney stones rarely pose a major health risk during pregnancy and your doctor will be able to guide you effectively.
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