Kidney Infection During Pregnancy – 7 Causes & 2 Treatments You Should Be Aware Of

pregnancy and kidney infection

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Pyelonephritis, or kidney infection, is a serious medical complication that can occur during your pregnancy. Your bloodstream can become infected and pose a life-threatening situation.

Infection of the kidney can also pose a serious threat to your baby. It may result in giving birth to a low-birth-weight infant or experiencing preterm labor.

Kidney Infection And Pregnancy- Startling Facts:

Acute pyelonephritis is a bacterial infection that 1 to 2% of expecting mothers experience. [2]

  • In a most cases, it starts in the lower urinary tract and moves up from the genital area and urethra to the bladder, if it is not promptly diagnosed and treated properly.
  • From the bladder, it goes on to affect one or both of the kidneys in your body.
  • A kidney infection has also been connected to an increase in the risk of newborn or fetal mortality. [1]

[ Read: Causes of Low Birth Weight ]

Treatment For Kidney Infection During Pregnancy:

Pyelonephritis requires intensive treatment in

hospitals where you will be given antibiotics intravenously.

  1. The good news is that there are many antibiotics available to treat kidney infection and UTI and they are safe for your baby.
  2. If you suffer from vomiting and nausea due to the infection, you will be prescribed safe antiemetic medicines that will not have an adverse effect on your pregnancy or your baby. [3]

[ Read: Gallbladder During Pregnancy ]

What Are The Symptoms Of Kidney Infection During Pregnancy?

If you suspect that you have a kidney infection, it is important that you seek medical attention right away. Kidney infection symptoms during pregnancy appear without warning and they commonly include the following:

  1. High fever that is accompanied by sweats, chills or shaking.
  2. Lower back pain or pain under the ribs.
  3. Pain in the abdomen.
  4. Vomiting and nausea.If you have an infection in your kidney, your urine may contain pus or blood. You may also experience symptoms that come with cystitis as well [1]. You may also experience urinary symptoms such as:
  5. Frequent urination.
  6. Urgent urination needs.
  7. Painful urination or dysuria.

[ Read: Nausea During Pregnancy ]

How Is Pyelonephritis Treated?

As mentioned earlier, if you suffer from this infection during your pregnancy, you would have to be hospitalized immediately. Intravenous antibiotics, such as cephalosporin drugs, will be administered.

  • Within 48 hours of antibiotic treatment, roughly 75% of patients show improvement.
  • About 90% of patients are free from fever and other kidney infection symptoms at the end of 3 day. [2]
  • If the symptoms you are going through do not improve, it could be the antibiotic you are given is not working against the infection-causing micro-organisms. If this is the case, your doctor will prescribe a stronger antibiotic for your treatment.
  • Another main cause of ineffective treatment is blockage of the urinary tract by a kidney stone. The obstruction can also be caused by the compression due to the growing uterus. Diagnosis of the obstruction is done through an ultrasound or x-ray of your kidneys.

How Can Recurrence Of Pyelonephritis Be Prevented?

According to experts, about 20 to 30% of pregnant women who have been affected by pyelonephritis experience recurrence of the infection at the later stages of their pregnancy. [2]

  • To make sure that you do not develop a recurrent infection, take one dose of an antibiotic every day.
  • Along with the antibiotics, a urine screen for bacteria will also be required whenever you visit your doctor.
  • If the symptoms of the infection recur, an additional urine culture will be required to determine if you need to be treated again.

[ Read: Bacterial Infection During Pregnancy ]


  • It is always best to ensure that you do not develop a kidney infection during your pregnancy.
  • Take care of yourself by drinking plenty of water and fluids like cranberry juice is important.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene to decrease the levels of bacteria and prevent bacteria from infecting your urinary tract.[1]

If you take precautions from the start, you can make sure that you and your baby are safe from the harmful effects of kidney infections in pregnancy.

Sources : 1 , 2

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