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Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are hard masses that form in the kidney. They may be smaller than a poppy seed or as big as a marble. Pregnancy doesn't cause kidney stones to form, but pregnant women do sometimes develop them.

Often, kidney stones go unnoticed, passing out of the body in the urine. Trouble comes when they get stuck in one of the ureters, the tubes that connect the kidneys with the bladder. This causes tremendous pain in the back, side, or groin that may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or blood in the urine. The pain may come and go in waves.

If the kidney stone is small, doctors usually recommend taking acetaminophen to help with the pain and drinking large amounts of water to try to flush the stone out of the body. If the stone is too large to pass, stronger pain medication is sometimes used; rarely is a surgical procedure needed. Lithotripsy, a procedure that uses sound waves or lasers to break up kidney stones, is not safe for pregnant women.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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