During pregnancy, one needs to be extremely cautious about their health. However, regardless of how much prevention we take, sometimes circumstances are beyond our control and we end up falling sick anyways. Now, we are all aware that we cannot just take any medication we want to when we are pregnant. Certain medications are known to cause harm to the fetus. What further makes this situation worse is that your body’s immunity levels are already compromised as your immune system lowers the barrier levels so that the body does not end up rejecting the developing fetus. Therefore, you become susceptible to all sorts of bacteria and viruses floating around. So what do you do if you come down with a fever while being pregnant?
Is It Dangerous To Have Fever During Pregnancy?
If you come down with a fever while being pregnant, it is but natural to wonder whether it will harm your baby. Usually, during pregnancy, it is quite normal to catch a cold or a cough and as the body works overtime to both kill the bacteria/viruses that have invaded your body and sustain your growing baby, the result will often be a fever.
While being pregnant, you do need to keep an eye on your body temperature. The normal body temperature should be in the range of 98oF or 37oC. A slight spike from the normal body temperature is usually nothing to worry about.
However, if you are constantly running a temperature of 100.5oF or 38oC or higher then you need to consult your doctor immediately. Once you are down with a fever, what generally tends to happen is that your appetite goes down and you also start to develop a poor stamina. In such conditions, there is a chance of preterm contractions and even a preterm birth happening in serious cases.
Loss of appetite combined with morning sickness is also going to have an effect on your body and you will start becoming weaker physically.
While having a fever by itself is not considered to be dangerous, what matters is why you have the fever and if there is an underlying infection. You also need to take care that you are not becoming weak physically as this could cause a negative impact on your fetus.
How does a Fever affect your Baby?
If your body temperature rises above normal, it indicates that you have a fever and that most probably, the body is fighting off an infection. It can be that sometimes due to overexertion also the body temperature goes up slightly. But if after resting for a day or two your temperature does not come down to normal, then it could be a sign that there is an underlying condition that may harm your baby. Thus, it is important that you consult your doctor immediately.
In fact, a study conducted by researchers from UC Berkeley found evidence that showed that having a fever during early pregnancy is linked to birth defects. The study was done on animals and it was seen that a fever can interfere with the fetus’ heart development and also affect the development of the jaw during the first trimester. While more research is, of course, needed to validate the same in humans as well, but there is always a risk that having a fever in the early weeks of your pregnancy can increase your risk of having a baby with birth defects.
Therefore, to prevent any types of short term and long term complications in your baby, if you notice that you have a fever of 102oF or higher, be sure to reach out to your doctor right away.
Common Reasons Why You Get a Fever during Pregnancy
One of the most common reasons behind getting a fever while pregnant is a urinary tract infection. Even respiratory viruses are equally to blame. As your immune system is weaker than normal and having to perform extra work to keep both you and your baby healthy, you become more susceptible to colds, coughs, infections, and fevers while pregnant. There are many reasons why you tend to get a fever while pregnant. These include:
It is quite common to get a fever when you have a cold. The same goes for having the flu. Apart from a fever, you may also have a cough, runny nose, difficulty breathing, and a sore threat. If you have a common cold or the flu then these symptoms will subside on their own within a week to two weeks. However, consult a doctor if they persist even after two weeks. As even a common cold is enough to weaken you further while pregnant, you should try to avoid catching a cold. You can do this by keeping your home clean and washing your hands frequently. Also, avoid coming in contact with people who have a cold or the flu. If you have the flu, remember to take proper rest and drink plenty of water or fluids. Do remember that if you are planning a pregnancy, you should get the recommended flu shots before you become pregnant itself.
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
A urinary tract infection is one of the most common infections that pregnant women tend to catch. In fact, more than 15% of pregnant women suffer from a UTI during their pregnancy. In this condition, bacteria travels from the vagina or the rectum to the urethra and up to the bladder as well. You get a fever from the infection along with burning sensation while urinating, cloudy or even bloody urine, chills, etc. If you suspect a UTI, you must consult your doctor immediately so that you be prescribed antibiotics for treating the infection. Also, drink plenty of water to flush out the bacteria. UTIs can cause many complications in your pregnancy; therefore, timely treatment is a must.
A gastrointestinal virus is also another common condition that affects pregnant women and causes a fever. This can be caused by food poisoning as well. It can also cause diarrhea and vomiting, increasing the risk of dehydration. You have to keep a check on dehydration during this time as crucial electrolytes can get lost and need to be replenished. This is a serious condition which may cause preterm labor; therefore, you must seek the medical help to be treated on time.
If you have a fever that goes away on its own, it is still recommended that you see your doctor, either way, to rule out any complications. Keep in mind that fevers during pregnancy are never normal, so getting tested is advisable. Usually, Tylenol combined with proper rest and hydration is all it takes to recover from a minor infection and fever.
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- Stein, A. and Raoult, D., 1998. Q fever during pregnancy: a public health problem in southern France. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 27(3), pp.592-596.
- Raoult, D. and Stein, A., 1994. Q fever during pregnancy–a risk for women, fetuses, and obstetricians. New England Journal of Medicine, 330(5), pp.371-371.
- Raoult, D., Fenollar, F. and Stein, A., 2002. Q fever during pregnancy: diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up. Archives of internal medicine, 162(6), pp.701-704.