What to Do When You Get Sick While Pregnant

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A sniffle, a mild fever, an upset stomach—everyone comes down with some of these symptoms at one time or another. Usually, a virus is a nuisance, but a relatively benign one. Unfortunately, being pregnant has a tendency to complicate everything, including your usual, run-of-the-mill bug. Here are some things you should know about it.


You will probably get sick more often than usual
When you are pregnant, your body automatically diverts all of its resources to the new life growing inside of you. An unfortunate side effect of this is that other functions, such as your immune system, are often compromised in the process. As a result, you’re likely to find yourself feeling under the weather more often than usual.

Prevention is the best cure
That’s not to say, however, that there’s nothing you can do to stop it. The usual tactics for avoiding a cold also apply here. Wash your hands frequently, especially if a partner, child or friend around you is sick. Try to avoid touching your nose or mouth with your hands too often. Get your eight (or, even better, nine) hours of shut-eye every night (without the aid of sleeping pills—Melatonin and certain other commonly prescribed drugs are not considered safe for pregnancy), drink plenty of fluids, get at least half an hour of exercise per day, and eat lots of fruits and veggies. There’s also some evidence that taking probiotics (naturally found in yogurt) can help.

Most vaccines are safe for pregnant women
If you’re debating whether or not to get your annual flu shot, go for it. The American Pregnancy Association says that the it’s safe during maternity and better for the fetus than actually getting the flu.

Not all medications are created equal
Acetaminophen, the main ingredient in Tylenol and Paracetamol, is considered safe for pregnant women in moderate doses (no more than 8 tablets per day). Similarly, codeine and dextromethorphan can be used to help ease coughing. Unfortunately, most medications are off-limits to pregnant women. Watch out for any drugs o the following list, as well as any combination medications that treat a variety of symptoms.

Stay away from:

  • Aspirin
  • Bismuth subsalicylate (Kaopectate, Pepto Bismol)
  • Bromphen-iramine (Dimetapp Cold and Allergy)
  • Chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton, Advil Allergy & Congestion Relief) – while chlorpheniramine may be used during pregnancy to relieve a runny nose, CPM may pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Antihistamines may also slow breast milk production. Do not use this medicine without your doctor’s advice if you are breast-feeding a baby.
  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
  • Naproxen (Aleve)
  • Phenylephrine and pseudo-ephedrine (Advil Cold & Sinus, Claritin-D, Sudafed 12 Hour)

Be careful of fevers and dehydration
The common cold or the flu shouldn’t hurt your baby, but some of the symptoms potentially could. In general, you don’t want your body temperature to rise over 39 degrees C while pregnant, as doing so may increase the risk of a miscarriage. If have a high fever for more than a day, see a doctor immediately and see if they can prescribe something. If you are vomiting frequently, either from routine morning sickness or a bacteria/viral infection, make sure you drink lots of fluids (even more than usual) to avoid dehydration. Water is very important, so pregnant woman should drink around 2000 ml/day to prevent dehydration. If you become dehydrated, your metabolism will change and may produce ketones that are harmful to your baby. If you have a high grade fever that does not improve after taking common medication, or you feel too sick to drink or eat, please seek medical attention.

Photo Credit: dizznbonn via Compfight cc


Expecting Expats is the online resource for parents in and around Thailand.

We provide lifestyle and medical content to our visitors, with new content posted daily. Our lifestyle contributors are themselves expat moms who share their experiences and lessons learned through blog articles. We also provide medical content from our partner doctors at Samitivej Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand. Articles of interest span from before pregnancy through the toddler years and cover medical, behavioral and cognitive issues.

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