Updated on 12 September 2023
Pregnancy is a beautiful journey filled with anticipation and joy, but it can also come with various challenges. One such challenge is dealing with fever in pregnancy. Fever is not uncommon during this period, but it is essential to understand its causes, risks, and remedies to ensure the well-being of both the mother and the baby.
In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the causes of fever, the associated risks in each trimester, effective home remedies, and when it is crucial to seek medical attention.
Let us understand some of the reasons that can lead to fever in expecting mothers:
Infections such as urinary tract infections, respiratory infections, and influenza can lead to fever. These infections occur due to the weakened immune system during pregnancy, making expectant mothers more susceptible.
Viral illnesses like the common cold, flu, or even the Zika virus can cause fever in expecting mothers. These viruses can be transmitted through contact with infected individuals or mosquitoes.
UTIs are a common cause of fever. Hormonal changes in the body can affect the urinary tract, making it more prone to infections.
Inflammatory conditions like appendicitis or tonsillitis can also result in fever. These conditions require immediate medical attention to avoid complications.
Occasionally, certain medications may trigger a fever as a side effect. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any medication during pregnancy to minimize the risk.
A fever can pose certain risks for both the expecting mother and the unborn baby, such as:
Risk of birth defects: Experiencing a fever in early pregnancy can be concerning. It is important to note that high fevers during this period may increase the risk of birth defects. Studies have shown that prolonged exposure to high temperatures, especially during the early stages of pregnancy, can potentially harm the developing fetus.
Dehydration: Fever during the first trimester can lead to dehydration, which can adversely affect the well-being of both the mother and the baby. It is crucial to monitor the fever closely and take appropriate measures to bring it down.
Risk of complications: While fever during the second trimester carries fewer risks compared to the first trimester, it is still important to address it promptly. Untreated or prolonged fever during this period can lead to complications such as preterm labor and low birth weight.
Fatigue and discomfort: Fever during the second trimester can cause discomfort and fatigue for the expectant mother. It is essential to rest, stay hydrated, and follow the recommended remedies to alleviate the symptoms and reduce the fever.
Risk of preterm labor: Fever during the third trimester of pregnancy can pose risks for both the mother and the baby. High fever during this stage may increase the chances of preterm labor and delivery. It can also elevate the baby's heart rate and distress the fetus.
Disrupted sleep patterns: Fever during the third trimester can disrupt the mother's sleep patterns and cause discomfort, affecting her overall well-being. It is crucial to monitor the fever closely, seek medical advice, and take necessary steps to manage it effectively.
Let us now understand how to effectively manage fever in pregnancy:
Drinking plenty of fluids, such as water, herbal teas, and clear broths, is essential to stay hydrated and regulate body temperature. Avoid sugary beverages and caffeinated drinks as they can dehydrate the body.
Prioritize rest and relaxation to allow your body to recover. Take naps, practice deep breathing exercises, and engage in activities that promote calmness and well-being.
Applying warm compresses to the forehead or the back of the neck can help reduce fever. Use a cloth soaked in warm water and gently place it on the affected areas for relief.
Lukewarm baths can help bring down the body temperature. Avoid using hot water as it can raise body temperature and potentially harm the baby.
Acetaminophen, commonly known as paracetamol, is generally considered safe during pregnancy. However, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any medication to determine the appropriate dosage and ensure its safety for both the mother and the baby.
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While fever can usually be managed at home, it is essential to seek medical attention in certain situations. Contact your healthcare provider if:
The fever persists for more than 24 hours.
The fever is accompanied by severe headache, abdominal pain, or chest pain.
There is a noticeable decrease in fetal movement.
You experience difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
Prompt medical attention can help identify the underlying cause of the fever and ensure appropriate treatment.
High fever during early pregnancy has been associated with an increased risk of certain birth defects. However, it is important to note that the risk is relatively low. If you experience a fever during the first trimester, it is advisable to seek medical attention to evaluate the potential risks and receive appropriate guidance.
Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen, is generally considered safe for relieving fever during pregnancy. However, it is crucial to consult with your healthcare provider before taking any medication to ensure the appropriate dosage and to rule out any potential risks.
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Fever in pregnancy can be a cause for concern, but with the right knowledge and proactive measures, it can be managed effectively. Understanding the causes, risks, and remedies for fever during pregnancy is crucial for ensuring the well-being of both the mother and the baby. By following the home remedies, monitoring the fever closely, and seeking medical attention when necessary, expectant mothers can navigate this challenge with confidence.
Egloff C, Sibiude J, Couffignal C, Mandelbrot L, Picone O. (2020). Causes and consequences of fever during pregnancy: A retrospective study in a gynaecological emergency department. J Gynecol Obstet Hum Reprod.
Antoun S, Ellul P, Peyre H, Rosenzwajg M, Gressens P, Klatzmann D, Delorme R. (2021). Fever during pregnancy as a risk factor for neurodevelopmental disorders: results from a systematic review and meta-analysis. Mol Autism.
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