Pregnancy Kidney Infection Symptoms

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) urinary tract infections are very common during pregnancy. Merck explains that the urinary infection can ascend from the genitals to the bladder, up the ureters and into the kidneys causing pyelonephritis (infection of the kidneys). Merck states that pregnancy increases the risk of kidney infection due to the pressure the uterus places on the ureters, which are responsible for the normal flow of urine. When urine cannot exit the body normally it can cause a woman to be more susceptible an infection of the urinary tract. Symptoms of a kidney infection during pregnancy are similar to those occurring outside pregnancy, except that symptoms may go unnoticed due to the changes the body undergoes during pregnancy.

Symptoms at Onset

According to Merck, kidney infection effects often begin suddenly. These symptoms include chills associated with a fever, nausea, vomiting and pain in the lower part of the back and/or on either side of the back. The AAFP reports that pregnant women may seek medical treatment as a result of these symptoms and prevent any further complications with the infection. However, in many cases, pregnant women do not have these initial symptoms and miss out on important medical treatment of the infection, the AAFP states.

Urinary Symptoms

Women with an infection of the kidneys may experience an increase in urgency and frequency of urinating, even resulting in waking during sleep to urinate, but this is difficult to attribute to the infection. This is because women often urinate more frequently during pregnancy from the pressure the uterus places on the bladder. lists other symptoms including blood or mucus in the urine or a foul odor to urine which may be easier to attribute to infection.

Pain Symptoms

Pain during sexual intercourse, cramping or pain in the lower abdomen, or pain or pressure in the bladder area are all possible signs of kidney infection, reports Merck reports that symptoms of a bladder infection (cystitis) may impact about one-third of people with an infection of the kidney(s). These effects include frequent and painful urination. It is possible for the kidneys to become enlarged or painful from the infection.


The AAFP reports that up to 23 percent of women who experience pyelonephritis will experience it more than once during the same pregnancy. Untreated kidney infections can lead to preterm labor, toxic buildup of urine and bacteria and premature delivery of the baby, states the AAFP.

About this Author

Sarah Irene has written stacks of research articles dating back to 2000, has consulted in a number of settings, and is an able resource for a vast range of topics. She has been a psychology instructor since 2006 and has had her work published by ParentDish. She holds a master’s degree in clinical psychology.