Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pregnancy and the Stomach Flu

In March, we talked about Nursing through Stomach Flu. Breastfeeding your baby through a stomach virus is a gift you can give your child. Breastfeeding when you have a stomach virus can be incredibly difficult, especially when your baby has recovered and you've just started feeling ill. Fortunately, stomach viruses tend to pass through quickly - within 24 to 48 hours, typically - and as long as you can stay reasonably hydrated, you all should come through it with no more than a little extra laundry to show for it. Ideally.

On a similar topic, what about stomach flu and pregnancy?

My husband and I came down with something Sunday and Monday. We're not sure if it's something we ate or a stomach virus. The three kids all seem fine (crossing fingers), but we were both miserable. It didn't last long - less than 24 hours - but it wasn't pretty. Taking care of three kids and enduring the third trimester with a tender stomach is not one of the more fun Mondays I've had. I spent quite a lot of the day lying down and let the kids watch a lot of TV. The two hardest parts of childcare when you're sick are (can you guess?) changing poopy diapers and preparing food that you've no intention of eating. Of course, I had the privilege of doing both, multiple times that day.

I've had stomach flu while pregnant before (indeed, I was early in my pregnancy in March when the above-linked post was written), but never in the third trimester. This baby kicks a lot and kicks hard - I don't remember if my other three were this active at six months' gestation. What I can tell you is that having a baby kick you when you already have a stomach ache adds a whole new dimension to feeling crummy! What a bizarre and unwelcome sensation! (Although, knowing he was moving around in there and kicking happily was also reassuring.)

Here's the thing about stomach upset and pregnancy: Prolonged dehydration can be harmful to the developing baby, and it can make you feel worse. One day of vomiting/diarrhea isn't generally a big problem but if you go longer than 24 hours without being able to keep fluids down, you definitely want to be seen. The ER is an option in this case, if you're doing very poorly, as you may need IV fluids to sufficiently re-hydrate you.

Things to watch out for:
- Make sure you're feeling your baby move regularly (if you've started feeling movement). A baby who isn't moving is a baby who might need attention.
- Regular contractions. Sometimes, if your body is stressed and you're near term, you can go into early labor. If you notice contractions becoming stronger or regular, especially if you feel more than four in an hour, call your provider immediately and find out if you should come in or go to a hospital.

Obviously, if you ever have a concern regarding your health during pregnancy, contact your OB or midwife for advice!

A short note about food poisoning:
Typically, food poisoning that affects mom will not directly harm the baby. However, there are a few forms of food poisoning that can be harmful to the developing fetus. If you suspect you have one of these infections, please contact your care provider immediately! The main problematic infection is Listeriosis. Listeria is a bacteria found mainly on processed meats and cheeses and in unpasteurized milk and dairy products. Listeria poses little danger to adults, but it can cause serious harm to a developing fetus. See this WebMD article for specific information.

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