Fighting UTI (and Malaria) During Pregnancy


Published: August 30, 2016

Health + Wellness

31 weeks gone. Routine antenatal visit. Second baby.

For this particular visit, I’d gone there late — arrived around 11am against the normal 8am. I knew the normal rounds: pick a tally, check weight, check urine for glucose and protein, check BP, then see the nurses who examine growing belly.

Last stop — the “sister”. “Sister” is like the matron who supervises everything and refers you to doctor if need be. “You should see the doctor,” she said. Routine.

It was almost 2pm now. Everything was happening fast. At 2pm, the hospital enters emergency mode.


Female gynaecologist. A table with files. My wine-coloured file with my name on it. She rifles through the pieces of paper — scan results, blood works, more sheets.

“How are you today?” She asked.

“I am fine.” I replied, “well, except for a slight bitterness in the throat. Then, she started scribbling furiously in my case note. My own brain was reading, as fast as her fingers moved.

“Augmentin,” I read. My brain entered panic mode. “I don’t think I have an infection, why Augmentin?” I thought and said out loud.

“Okay then, let us do a full blood count” she said and wrote.

“Okay then,” I agreed. I was not ready to just start downing drugs for no reason. So, I took the form and made a mental note that I would do the FBC on my next visit, in two weeks.


Two weeks came. 33 weeks gone. Full blood count done. I waited to see the doctor with other big round bellies of different sizes. When it was finally my turn, he looked at me.

Male gynaecologist today. He took his time. Asked me questions. Re-calculated EDD. Examined my growing belly again. Listened to baby’s heartbeat with fetoscope.

“How are you today?” He asked.

“Fine,” I responded. Truly, I was fine.

“Okay, let us see the results.”

He told me there was good and not-so-good news.

Let me share the good news first. Malaria: negative. My packed cells volume (PCV) had increased to 36% from the 33% that it had stagnated throughout the entire pregnancy. I wanted to start dancing. Finally the blood tonic was paying off. Finally, my weekly ritual of drinking squeezed Ugwu leaves had positive effect. Ha, how I hate the taste of raw ugwu, but I’d rather have a healthy PCV and baby. And yes, I drink it without the usual malt or milk. No thanks, we, baby and I, are watching our weight. I only lick some honey to blur out the taste after drinking. So, you understand my excitement now?

Now, to the not-so-good news.

“Your white blood cells are slightly high,” he said.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“Something must be happening in your body. And we have to find out,” he said, even as he picked out some yellow forms and “ordered” urinalysis tests.

Sighs. More tests. More money. No wahala, as long as baby is fine.

In the mean time, he also prescribed “Augmentin”. Ha, the dreaded Augmentin. I hate antibiotics for many reasons. Asides the fact that they kill the good and bad bacteria in your body. The stench in your urine, sweat and every pore of the skin is so irritating. It sticks around like body odour. It refuses to go, even after taking your bath.

That Tuesday, I got one of the results. There was truly an infection in my urinary tract. But there were no tell-tale signs. No fever. No chills. No temperature. Nothing to warn me that there was anything wrong with me. Yes, I urinated more frequently at night, which was normal in the third trimester, according to Google. There was only one sign: pain on the left side of my stomach. Doctor says that is where the bladder is and there is a lot of pressure on it. So I started using the Augmentin, as I waited for the other test that would tell what bacteria it was exactly. And yes, the “odour” came.


Thursday night. Temperature. Chills. Headache. Name it. I had everything before dawn. Friday, I was back at the hospital. To complain and get the second test results. Mixed bacteria. I cannot even remember their names now. You know those things have names as horrible as they look under the microscope. So, I will spare you. More drugs, doctor said. She wrote a prescription. I bought.

“Start using it after you finish the Augmentin.” She advised. I agreed.

That weekend, I was not myself. It was bout after bout of fever. Add headaches and joint aches to that. I suppressed with Paracetamol. It would come. Then disappear. I would have the energy of a hundred people. On Monday, I could not take it again. I returned to the hospital.

Another day. Another doctor. He said, “we had better treat malaria.” I agreed. It was too strange.


That evening, my sweat had a new smell. The smell of malaria drugs. This continued for days. It was disgusting. I hated it. My mouth lost taste. I had to drink warm water. It was the only thing that went down. My urine switched between orange and yellow. I felt like vomiting every time. It was a very trying period. I was totally useless to myself. Yet, I had to wake up at odd times to take the drugs.

I learnt three lessons from this whole episode. First, that you feel “fine” does not mean that you are “fine”. Second, your body fights things that you are unaware of. Third, tests may not reveal it all. I am still puzzled: how come the FBC did not spot malaria? I also still wonder: did I really need that Augmentin?

And yes, mother and baby are doing just fine now. Everyday, as we move closer to the EDD, I am excited that we both killed two birds with one stone. So, yes, UTI and malaria, zero; mother and child, one (in Po’s voice—that is from watching too much Kungfu Panda with my son)

Post Script. Temitayo’s EDD finally came and her family has expanded plus one. Both mommy and baby are doing well now. 

Like what you're reading? Sign up for our free newsletter and never miss a post! Plus get a FREE digital version of our Issue No.10 with sign up.

Shop Now

Leave a Comment