Pregnancy is a difficult process, as your body is working hard to ensure your baby’s health and safety. Along the way, you may face several challenges, no matter how many precautions you take, including morning sickness. Morning sickness is already a handful, and so you should avoid adding other illnesses (disease, bacterial and viral, etc.) on top of your pregnancy symptoms. A cold, flu or fever, among others, can be worse because it may compromise you or your baby’s well-being. Getting sick is the last thing that you want, so knowing how to avoid sickness during pregnancy is critical.
Pregnancy and Your Immune System—What Happens If You Get Sick During Pregnancy?
Your immune system changes during pregnancy. In a way, this is about protecting the baby from you! Your immune system is repressed so that your body doesn’t view your fetus as a “foreign object” and attack it. It is a common misconception that your immune system just moves resources to the baby, but this just isn’t true. Because your immune system is repressed, you are more vulnerable to infection.
Research shows that during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, the immune cells flood the womb’s lining causing inflammation. This eventually helps establish the fetus. The next 15 weeks are also critical, as this is when the body represses your immune system to make way for the fetus’ development and growth. While your baby is being protected, you become vulnerable to various infections: bacterial, viral and parasitic.
Flu with Fever
Those who are pregnant are more prone to catching flu, which is bad news for you and your offspring. Its effect on you is different than on non-pregnant individuals. For one thing, flu can compromise your heart and lungs leading to hospitalization if not addressed properly.
If the flu is accompanied by fever, the chances of your baby having a birth defect, such as spina bifida, are high. Among the other diseases that your child may develop due to flu with fever include cleft lip or cleft palate, anencephaly, limb reduction defects and hypoplasia.
Cleft Lip or Cleft Palate
Babies born with cleft lip, also known as orofacial cleft, have a small opening in the lip through the nose. This occurs when the facial tissues fail to form completely. The same thing goes with cleft palate, which occurs on the roof of the mouth.
A neural tube defect wherein parts of the baby’s brain and skull fail to form fully. When this happens, the baby may be born with a missing forebrain and cerebrum, or a part of the brain may be exposed.
Limb Reduction Defects
This defect is characterized by missing or reduced legs (lower limb) or arms (upper limb) in babies. This can cause motor skills issues and limited movements.
This condition can affect different organs in the baby’s body. Caused by the lack of cell growth, hypoplasia can occur in the child’s cerebellum, thumb, optic nerve or enamel.
Diarrhea with Dehydration
Diarrhea is a common ailment during pregnancy and its frequency increases during the third trimester. The usual causes include your changing hormones, dietary adjustments, food poisoning or stomach bug. While diarrhea alone is not life-threatening, the dehydration that accompanies the condition can be.
Severe dehydration during pregnancy is alarming because it could result in premature labor. More importantly, it increases your baby’s risk of developing neural tube defects (NTD), which can cause problems in the development of your baby’s brain and spine. When this occurs, seeking immediate medical attention is necessary. Your doctor may perform outpatient treatments like IV fluid and OTC medications if it’s accompanied by vomiting and nausea.
Symptoms You Should Watch Out For
Over the course of your pregnancy, you may frequently feel unwell. Nausea and vomiting, for example, normally occur during pregnancy. Aside from these, you may experience other symptoms like fatigue and headaches.
On the other hand, symptoms such as blurry vision, chest pain or breathing difficulty, persistent headaches and unusual swelling deserve attention. Immediate consultation with your OBGYN will help you determine what is causing them and recommend proper treatment.
Over-the-Counter Medications: Are They Safe During Pregnancy?
There are many ways to avoid sickness during pregnancy, but sometimes, it just happens no matter how cautious you are. Sickness during pregnancy can be a significant cause of worry, especially when you don’t know what OTC medicines are okay for your developing baby. When your main concern is your baby’s safety, you become extra careful before taking any pill.
How To Avoid Sickness During Pregnancy With Over-the-Counter Medications
Are over-the-counter medications safe to take? Dr. Folch-Hayek, OBGYN at Family Health Centers of San Diego, recommends consulting your prenatal care provider or even the pharmacist to make sure that they will not cause any harm. Some medicines are safe to take, such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) for headaches, muscle pains or fever. On the off-chance that even acetaminophen cannot be taken, your prenatal care provider may offer an alternative pain reliever.
What Medicines Should You Avoid?
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) should be avoided, especially during the late trimester. Ibuprofen, especially if taken many times during pregnancy, could cause miscarriage and damage your baby’s heart or lungs. Research suggests that frequent intake could lead to death.
While most medicines for chronic diseases like diabetes and thyroid disease are safe to use under the guidance of your doctor, medications for hypertension are not. It is important to consult your OBGYN to determine the safety of the medications you take.
5 Life-saving Tips on How to Avoid Getting Sick During Pregnancy
Many people are aware of the difficulties of being pregnant, but some still have the misconception that pregnancy is easy. It’s not. You can enjoy the pregnancy glow, but it can easily disappear when you get sick. Normal pregnancy comes with ailments, aches and pains.
Sicknesses can happen anytime, especially if you do not pay attention to your health. Knowing how to overcome sickness during pregnancy can help you survive the period without risking your baby’s well-being. However, prevention is always better than cure.
That said, here are a few life-saving tips to guide you during this sensitive stage.
1. Mind your diet
Changing your diet is a huge adjustment, but the quality of the foods you eat can help ward off sicknesses. Eat a balanced diet at all times, and avoid foods that are not beneficial for your health and your baby’s development. While the Internet is rich with information on pregnancy diet plans, the recommendations may be too generalized for your unique conditions.
Each pregnancy is different and the foods you eat can contribute to the symptoms you are experiencing. As always, it is highly recommended to consult a certified prenatal nutritionist who will help you address your specific condition.
2. Avoid foods and drinks that are not recommended
There are foods and beverages you can safely consume, and there are some you should avoid. Your doctor may encourage you to eat as much as you want if weight loss is evident, but it doesn’t mean you can eat any kind of food. Again, the types of food that you can eat depends on your symptoms and medical condition.
3. Take vitamins for you and your baby
Vitamins are a major requisite for a healthy pregnancy. They help promote proper nourishment and development of your unborn child, as well as strengthen your body’s defense against infections. Taking the necessary supplements will make up for possible deficiencies if you are not getting the needed nutrients from your diet.
Dr. Folch-Hayek says, “Folic acid is most helpful at the beginning of pregnancy. It decreases the risk of neural tube diseases (NTDs) such as spina bifida.” Spina bifida is damage in a developing embryo’s spinal cord and nerves, which occurs when the neural tube fails to close completely.
Folic acid, a B vitamin, is useful in making new cells. Taking at least 400 mcg per day if you are planning to conceive is ideal because some people do not know they are already pregnant. This will greatly reduce the risk of NTDs in babies because their spine develops during the early stage of pregnancy.
The hemoglobin levels in the blood decrease during pregnancy due to physiologic changes. At this stage, the blood volume increases while the red blood cells move at a slower rate. This slow increase can lead to anemia, which is a known cause of low birth weight, premature birth and postpartum depression.
Iodine is another key vitamin that helps with your baby’s brain development. It is a mineral responsible for the production of thyroid hormones, which are essential for body functions. During pregnancy, the body’s need for iodine increases to support the mother’s and the baby’s daily requirements.
Severe iodine deficiency may result in premature birth, stillbirth or mental impairment in babies. Ideally, 150 mcg is enough. Too much iodine may also have adverse effects, so it is better taken with your doctor’s advice.
Remember that anything you take, you take them for two. Your body’s need for calcium increases to maintain your bone density and support your baby’s bone development at the same time.
Vitamin D supplements are important for both pregnancy and lactation. It helps regulate calcium absorption and prevent birth defects and low birth weight. Some studies suggest that high vitamin D doses can also reduce the risk of preeclampsia, postpartum hemorrhage and gestational diabetes.
4. Get proper vaccinations
Because having the flu during pregnancy can be risky for you, getting a flu shot and Tdap vaccine (Tetanus toxoid, reduced diphtheria toxoid and acellular pertussis) is a smart move. If you are worried about its safety, ask your doctor, preferably during the early stages. These vaccines help create proteins or antibodies that serve as protective shields for your unborn child, especially against whooping cough, which is a life-threatening issue.
5. Always consult your prenatal care provider before making decisions
Can being sick during pregnancy harm the baby? What happens if you get sick during pregnancy? How do you avoid sickness during pregnancy? There are a lot of questions regarding you and your baby’s health and safety during pregnancy. Family and friends surely mean well when they give you answers based on their own knowledge, and the internet could also offer answers, but you should always consult your medical provider for your specific condition.
The best way to go through pregnancy confidently is to have a certified prenatal care provider watching your back. An expert’s diagnosis will provide an accurate answer to any pregnancy questions you may have. You can trust that your source of information is reliable.
Managing Sickness During Pregnancy is Easier Done with a Caring Expert
There are many ways to avoid sickness during pregnancy and provide your child with the best protection. This is a critical time for you, so you need to be cautious about the decisions you make regarding diet, medications and supplements. While information is available everywhere, some of it can be confusing when they fail to address your exact concerns.
The best way to guard yourself and your baby against sicknesses is to consult your doctor in times of uncertainty. Our prenatal care providers and OBGYNs at Family Health Centers of San Diego are dedicated to guiding you and helping you make your pregnancy safe.
We provide prenatal counseling, education and complete prenatal care. We are here to help you cope with minor to critical pregnancy issues no matter the time of day. If you are looking for a reliable clinic where a team of practitioners genuinely cares about you and your baby’s welfare, visit our website or contact us right away!
For more information, contact our staff at (619) 515-2428 or fill out the form below.