Fever during pregnancy or experiencing chills during pregnancy is never normal. Alyssa Dweck, the co-author of book “V is for Vagina” states that fever or chills could suggest an illness that’s completely unrelated to the pregnancy. But what are the causes of fever during pregnancy? Can it affect your child in any way? Live It Beautiful has answered these burning questions and a lot more below. Keep reading!
What Is Fever During Pregnancy?
Our average body temperature is 6.8-98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 36-37 degrees centigrade. And when the temperature increases to more than 38.3°C or 100.94°F, it’s fever. The signs of fever include:
- Muscle ache
Is Fever During Pregnancy Dangerous?
To put it straightforwardly, fever during pregnancy can be quite dangerous. A baby’s development is dependent on the sequence of steps that allow the blood vessels and organ to grow at the right time. This course depends on proteins, which are molecules that make substantial changes in the body. If there’s a rise in temperature, it will prevent the proteins from working properly and can lead to miscarriage. In some cases, it can even lead to congenital disabilities.
Can Fever During Pregnancy Affect My Baby:
Yes, fever during pregnancy can harm your baby. Some studies have shown that fever during the first trimester can cause heart defects, cleft palate and neural tube defects in babies. But the researchers are yet to conclude if these defects were caused by the fever or by the underlying infections.
Causes Of Fever During Pregnancy:
Our immune system during pregnancy becomes weaker as it needs to perform extra work for both you and your child. This makes the immune system susceptible to chills, infections, and fever during pregnancy. The other reasons behind fever during pregnancy include:
Common Cold Or Upper Respiratory Infection:
A common cold or upper respiratory infection, which includes nasal passages, sinuses, larynx and pharynx, often lead to fever, even in regular days. The symptoms of fever caused due to cold include a sore throat, runny nose, and difficulty in breathing. The symptoms usually subside within 15 days. And if it doesn’t, you must seek medical advice as it could be because of bronchitis, sinusitis, pneumonia or strep throat. Also, try to avoid contact with anyone suffering from a cold.
Influenza, or flu as it’s commonly known as, is another cause of fever during pregnancy. The symptoms generally include coughing, ache, vomiting and nausea. Pregnant women have relatively high chances of getting the flu and getting ill from it as their immune systems are suppressed already. But how can you differentiate between the flu and cold? We’ll tell you! Flu comes on rather quickly, and the symptoms are way severer that cold. So if you think you have the flu, contact your doctor right away. In the meantime, also drink plenty of fluid and take rest. The antiviral medication prescribed by your doctor will work in some time. Or you may even be prescribed a flu shot.
Vomiting and diarrhea brought on by gastrointestinal bug can lead to several consequences for pregnant women, if left untreated. Dehydration because of the gastrointestinal virus can cause premature contractions and even preterm labor. The other possible side effects include weakness, dizziness, hypotension, fainting and even electrolyte imbalance. In most of the cases, gastrointestinal virus resolves on its own by taking fluids like water, Gatorade and following BRAT diet. But if you have not been able to keep liquids down for 24 hours and if you’ve been vomiting blood, or if you’ve noticed blood in your bowel movement, you should consult medical care.
Urinary Tract Infection:
Around 10% of pregnant women get urinary tract infection during pregnancy. This infection takes place when the bacteria traverse from the vagina or rectum to the urethra up to the bladder. This leads to bloody and cloudy urine, chills and fever. Urinary Tract Infections are usually asymptomatic, but others do come with symptoms like a burning sensation while urinating
UTI infection is not dangerous if they are treated on time. But if not, it can lead to kidney disease and other pregnancy complication, like a low birthweight baby, preterm labor, and sepsis. To treat UTI, you need to drink plenty of water apart from taking prescribed antibiotics.
Chorioamnionitis occurs in about 1 or 2% of pregnancies, but it’s quite deadly. It’s a bacterial infection of the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby. A few common indications of chorioamnionitis include the tender uterus, rapid heartbeat, high fever, chills, and sweating. If chorioamnionitis takes place at an advance stage of pregnancy, doctors can even advise a C-section to prevent the infection getting to the baby.
Fifth Disease Or Parvovirus B19:
As per reports from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, five percent of pregnant women get this contagious infection. The common symptoms of parvovirus B19 include a headache, soreness in joint, rashes, fever and sore throat. Parvovirus can cause complications like fetal anemia, stillbirth, miscarriage, and heart inflammation in the fetus.
Flu-like Listeria (Listeriosis):
Listeriosis occurs when a pregnant woman consumes contaminated food and water. So you must avoid unpasteurized milk, meat and smoked food at any cost. The symptoms of listeriosis include diarrhea, muscle aches, high fever, nausea, convulsions or stiff neck, and headache. If left untreated, it can cause stillbirth, premature delivery or miscarriage.
Prevent Fever During Pregnancy:
To prevent fever during pregnancy,
- Avoid contact with people who are ill and wash your hands as often as you can.
- Get a flu shot after consulting with your gynecologist.
Reduce Fever During Pregnancy Using Home Remedies:
Whenever you feel a spike in the temperature, contact your gynecologist right away. Once your gynecologist or midwife confirms that the fever isn’t any cause for concern, you can handle it in any comfortable way you want. At first, your aim should be to reduce the fever without taking any medicine. Below are some home remedies to reduce fever during pregnancy without using any medication.
- Lie down and put a cold, damp washcloth on your forehead.
- Take a sponge bath or a lukewarm tub bath. But you need to avoid cold water bath at any cost, as it can raise the temperature. In case of lukewarm water, the fever will reduce as the water evaporates off the body. DO NOT TRY A SPONGE BATH USING RUBBING ALCOHOL, no matter who recommends it. It cools down too quickly, leading the body to reheat even further. And inhaling the vapors can be harmful to both you and your baby.
- Drink plenty of fluids during fever. It will cool down your body from inside out. Hot beverages like herbal or ginger teas should be consumed. It will soothe the inflamed membrane lining the nose.
- Turn on the fan, but ensure that it doesn’t blow directly on you as that would give you chills. Put the fan on low setting and let the air circulate you.
- Stay indoors in moderate temperature. And if you’re outside, don’t sit directly in the sun. Sit under the shade.
- Dress in light clothing. If you feel cold, wrap yourself in a blanket until you feel warm enough to remove it.
- If the fever during pregnancy is because of cold and cough, blow your nose often. Gargling will also bring relief.
When Should You Call The Doctor:
If the fever doesn’t go away within 24 to 36 hours, you should consult the doctor. In the case of medicines, acetaminophen works best for reducing temperature during pregnancy. Also, if you notice any of these symptoms and signs, visit your doctor right away. The signs and symptoms to look out for include:
- Fever during pregnancy in second and third trimester
- Spotting or bleeding
- Abdominal pain
- Fainting or dizziness
- Steady or heavy vaginal discharge
- Sudden swelling of hands, feet, or face
- Lack of fetal movement
- Frequent and painful urination
- Moderate to severe pelvic pain
In our opinion, any type of fever during pregnancy must be reported to your doctor. You just cannot afford to take it lightly. Your priority should be to keep yourself and your baby safe. If you have anything more to share with us, leave us a comment below.