Protein levels in your urine naturally double during pregnancy. According to a report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, it can go from its normal range of 150 mg to 300 mg in a 24-hour collection.
Because your blood volume increases during pregnancy and as a result, the rate of protein secretion also increases. Also, decreased urea and serum creatinine concentrations make the presence of protein more prominent in your urine test.
If you get a urinary tract infection during pregnancy, it can increase the level of protein in your urine transiently, known as transient proteinuria.
An article published in ahjournals shows that proteinuria in late pregnancy (after 20 weeks) is directly associated with preeclampsia. Preeclampsia is a high blood pressure-related disorder that causes serious harm to both mother and fetus. Fetal growth restriction, organ damage, placental abruption, premature birth, birth defects etc. are directly related to preeclampsia. High protein in the urine may suggest preeclampsia later in pregnancy.
4. Help syndrome
In HELLP syndrome, you may also see increased protein levels in the urine. It is a rare but serious form of pre-eclampsia that develops around 37 weeks of pregnancy but symptoms appear within 48 hours of delivery, suggests research published in Europe PMC. This syndrome, as its name suggests, causes hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet counts.
5. Kidney disease
The presence of already existing chronic kidney disease, type 1 and type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure also cause proteinuria in the first trimester of pregnancy.
5. Dehydration and excessive physical fatigue
It can also cause a temporary increase in protein in your urine.
Symptoms of high protein in urine during pregnancy
Initially, you may not notice any symptoms of proteinuria. But symptoms may appear the next day without any treatment;
- Foamy or bubbly urine
- Swelling of the feet, hands and face
- high blood pressure
- Lower abdominal pain
- Visual disturbances including blurred vision, sensitivity to light and headache
If you have any of these symptoms along with high blood pressure, don’t waste time. Do necessary check-up and treatment to avoid any accidents.
Risk factors for high protein in urine during pregnancy
Certain risk factors can increase the chance of getting high protein in the urine during pregnancy. Risk factors for proteinuria are mentioned in a report by Frontiers;
- Previous pregnancy with preeclampsia
- Family history of kidney problems
- Pre-existing high blood pressure or chronic high blood pressure
- Pre-existing diabetes
- Obesity or BMI over 30
- Very early (before 20 years) or very late (after 35 years) pregnancy
- Multiple children such as twins or triplets
If you have any of these risk factors, check the level of protein in your urine.
Treatment options for high protein during pregnancy
Treatment of proteinuria will depend on its severity, underlying cause, and complications. Generally, step-by-step treatment options for high protein in urine during pregnancy are;
1. Moderate experience and dietary changes
Proteinuria in early pregnancy, and limiting the intake of salt and protein in your daily diet will help you cure proteinuria, suggests a report in AhJournal. You can try pregnancy-friendly yoga and exercise to reduce protein levels in your urine.
2. Hydration and rest
Adequate water intake and regular rest will help reduce protein levels in your urine.
If you have high blood pressure or preeclampsia during pregnancy, you may need to take medication. Medicines will keep your blood pressure under control to avoid complications during your pregnancy.
In cases of severe preeclampsia and other pregnancy problems associated with high protein in the urine, one may need to go to the hospital. With constant monitoring and early care, you can deliver your baby with minimal risk.
Tips to prevent high protein in urine during pregnancy?
Proteinuria during pregnancy is quite preventable as many factors directly or indirectly cause it. But with regular lifestyle moderation and monitoring, you can avoid the risk of making them a huge mistake. Here are some tips to prevent high protein in urine during pregnancy;
- As reported by NCBI, a woman needs about 46 grams/day of protein during the first trimester. And in the second and third trimesters, it increases to 71 g/day. Do not exceed this limit.
- Reduce salt and artificial sugar intake to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and blood sugar.
- Avoid excess weight gain even during pregnancy
- Do light exercise and meditation to keep your body and mind free of tension
- Drink enough water
- Maintain reproductive hygiene to avoid UTIs
- Check blood sugar and blood pressure levels frequently after 20 weeks of pregnancy
When should you consult a doctor?
If you have symptoms, you should consult a doctor;
- A sudden increase in protein levels in the urine
- Persistent and persistent high protein in the urine
- High diabetes and BP count during pregnancy
- Urinary tract infection
- Family history of preeclampsia
- Pre-existing kidney damage
Checking the level of protein in the urine is part of the prenatal test. This test should be done at least twice during your pregnancy. Once in the first trimester and once after you cross 20 weeks. Talk to the doctor if anything unusual is found in the report and take necessary measures.
Pregnancy is a turbulent time for your body and mind. If something goes out of sync, it’s bound to get you in trouble. So keep your body fit and healthy. Take less pressure, salt, and sugar. There is only as much protein as your body needs. By doing this, you can control protein levels in your urine and other serious problems that can occur, such as preeclampsia.
1. Will drinking water reduce urine protein?
Yes, drinking lots of water dilutes the urine and reduces its protein concentration. This is useful when you see a mild increase in protein levels in your urine. However, in case of persistent proteinuria, you must consult a doctor.
2. What foods should be avoided if the protein is high?
You should limit protein-rich foods such as red meat, saltwater fish, poultry, and processed foods. You may even need to avoid them altogether if your proteinuria causes preeclampsia.
3. Does stress cause protein in the urine?
Stress itself is not directly linked to protein in the urine. But it can certainly disrupt your physical activity to create a favorable condition for proteinuria and preeclampsia.