Being sick is miserable. Being pregnant can be miserable. But being sick and pregnant is so hard. Being sick and pregnant after loss can be stressful. Here are some tips on preventing sickness, staying comfortable while sick, and getting medical attention when warranted.

pregnant woman with a fever - Sick and Pregnant: How to care for you and baby

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Before you get sick . . .

If you are reading this before falling ill, now is a good time to brush up on some preventative measures. Keeping germs at bay is especially important since your immune system is weakened when you are pregnant. Here’s how to mitigate your risk when you can:

  • Wash your hands. This probably goes without saying, but the tried and true method of preventing illness is your best preventative measure, too. Use warm soap and water, and scrub for at least 20 seconds before rinsing. If you’ve been out in public, be sure to give your hands a thorough scrub when you get home. And always wash before eating and after toileting.
  • Exercise. Did you know light-to-moderate exercise can boost your immune system[1]“What to Do if You Catch a Cold While Pregnant,” Jon Johnson, Reviewed by Alana Biggers, M.D., MPH, Medical News Today, February 15, 2017, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315815? Check out our list of pregnancy-approved exercises to find the regimen right for you.
  • Take your prenatal. And eat a healthy, balanced diet when possible. Staying within the recommended limits on vitamins and minerals will help your body ward off sickness by boosting your immune system.
  • Stay current on your vaccines. Follow your provider’s recommendations regarding vaccinations. And ask your provider to explain the benefits of a flu vaccine for you and baby while you’re pregnant.

When you feel sick, but you’re not really . . .

If you are suffering from morning sickness[2]“Morning Sickness Relief – Information and Support,” Tommy’s, April 10, 2018, … Continue reading. . .

Morning sickness is a bit of a misnomer as it can strike at any time of the day. And some women report experiencing it even after the first twelve weeks are over. If you are experiencing nausea or vomiting, with no other symptoms, you can try treating at home with the following:

  • Eat small meals. Try to eat something before you even get out of bed.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking broth can help get some nutrients in while also hydrating you.
  • Try ginger or peppermint, which naturally calm a queasy stomach.
  • Suck on a piece of hard candy or chew some gum.
  • Avoid heavy or fatty foods.

And if you feel you cannot get on top of your nausea, cannot keep liquid or foods down, are losing weight, or are dehydrated, call your OB or midwife. You may be suffering from a more severe form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum. For more information on morning sickness and when to contact your provider, go here.

If you are sick feeling sick from allergies or headaches . . .

Before you reach for your go-to meds to help alleviate symptoms, please talk to your provider about what medicines are safe for you at this stage in pregnancy. Pain in pregnancy should be treated, as it can raise blood pressure or cause undue stress on the body. But, according to Medical News Today … “The important thing to note is that healthcare professionals should always be involved in the decision to take any medication that relieves pain[3]“What to Do if You Catch a Cold While Pregnant,” Jon Johnson, Reviewed by Alana Biggers, M.D., MPH, Medical News Today, February 15, 2017, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315815.” Before you pop any pill, review our medication guide here and discuss it with your provider.

So, what should you do if you are sick and pregnant?

The American Pregnancy Association recommends you try the following when you fall sick[4]“Getting Sick While Pregnant,” American Pregnancy Association, October 8, 2019, https://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-complications/sick-while-pregnant/:

Rest.

Your body is already expending more energy sustaining your baby and falling ill takes even more energy. One of the best things you can do for your body is to rest, freeing up much-needed energy for your immune system to fight the infection. Aks for help at work or around the house. And lower your expectations on what you can do in a day.

Hydrate.

When you don’t feel well, it can be easy to fall behind on fluids, either because you just don’t have the energy to get up, or because fluids can make you feel sick. However, one of the greater risks to your baby during an illness is dehydration. Keep a large water bottle beside you in bed so you can accurately measure your intake throughout the day. If water is not cutting it, try a beverage you can tolerate like Sprite or Ginger-Ale. As previously mentioned, drinking broth is excellent for hydrating. Steer clear of highly caffeinated beverages which can further dehydrate you. If you cannot keep up on your fluids, you must put in a call ASAP to your provider.

Supplement.

Follow your doctor’s recommendations on pregnancy-safe vitamins and minerals to help provide the nutrition your body needs right now.

If you have a cough or cold, there are some natural remedies you can try to alleviate your discomfort:

  • Saline sprays for nasal congestion.
  • Salt-water gargle for a sore throat.
  • Humidifier for cough or congestion.

If these aren’t enough to help your symptoms, before you take medications, even medicines you regularly used for your symptoms before you were pregnant, talk to your doctor.

When you should be concerned about being sick and pregnant.

Besides the obvious “it doesn’t feel good,” there are other reasons to be extra cautious about getting sick while pregnant. According to Healthline, “A weaker immune system helps stop the woman’s body from rejecting the unborn baby. However, it also leaves expecting moms more vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections. Pregnant women are also more likely than nonpregnant women their age to have flu complications[5]“How to Treat a Cold or Flu When You’re Pregnant,” Healthline Editorial Team, Reviewed by Michael Weber, MD, Healthline Parenthood, July 17, 2015, … Continue reading.”

Seek medical attention if you show any of the following symptoms[6]“How to Treat a Cold or Flu When You’re Pregnant,” Healthline Editorial Team, Reviewed by Michael Weber, MD, Healthline Parenthood, July 17, 2015, … Continue reading:

  • dizziness
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain or pressure
  • vaginal bleeding
  • confusion
  • severe vomiting
  • high fever that isn’t reduced by acetaminophen
  • decreased fetal movement

You should also contact your provider if your symptoms or sickness are causing you to not be able to eat or sleep as you normally would. If it’s been several days and you are not getting better. Or if you are unsure of how to treat whatever illness you have.

When you’re sick and pregnant, take good care of yourself and your baby.

Being sick and pregnant is not the time to try to push through deadlines or long days. Instead, treat yourself the way you would treat your baby if he or she were sick. Offer yourself a lot of rest and comfort. Take the stress off where possible. Take medicine only as directed. And if you are not sure how to treat your symptoms, or are concerned something is wrong, talk to your medical provider for guidance.

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