How to Treat a Fever During Pregnancy

Treating a fever during pregnancy can be tricky business. While not all medications cross the placenta, most do, and about 3 percent of all birth defects are linked to drug use, not including alcohol. In other words, just about all medications that you put into your body will also cross the placenta and enter the body of your unborn baby. While these medications may help you feel better, they may be very harmful to your unborn baby. Some medications taken during pregnancy can result in low birth weight, premature births, birth defects and stillbirths. If you are pregnant and experience a fever above 100 to 101 degrees and you require medication, you must consult your physician and get a prescription.

Fever during pregnancy can be uncomfortable, but, unless the fever is high enough to cause worry, some physicians prefer that you fight off the infection on your own by taking tepid baths or showers, getting plenty of rest and fluids and keeping up-as well as possible-with a balanced diet during your illness. No matter what, you should tell your doctor how you feel. There are times, however, especially when the fever is as high as 101 degrees or even when a low-grade fever does not budge over the space of 24 hours, when it is necessary for your physician to administer some type of medication.

Types Of Infections
Most pregnant women are not aware of the fact that their immune system is lowered during pregnancy. The immune system is automatically lowered so that the body does not recognize the fetus as a foreign object and reject it. But because the immune system does not work as efficiently and effectively, a pregnant woman's defenses are down, making her a walking target for invading germs such as:

  • The common cold
  • Many upper respiratory infections
  • The flu and pneumonia
  • Bladder infections
  • Yeast infections
  • Other infections

This also means the chance of running a fever or catching a cold is high. But, regardless of how sick you feel, it's important to remember that pregnant women should never take over-the-counter cold, flu or cough medications before contacting their physician. Some over-the-counter medications can be detrimental to the unborn baby. Only use the medication prescribed by your doctor and then only in the doses and time frame prescribed.

How To Treat A Fever

  • Contact your physician as soon as you notice a fever
  • Get plenty of bed rest
  • Drink plenty of clear liquids
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Take tepid baths to keep the fever down
  • Dress lightly to avoid overheating
  • Gargle with hot water and honey to help a sore throat
  • Use a hot water bottle or a cold washcloth to help soothe a headache or muscle aches (use a heating pad sparingly and then only on the advice of your physician)
  • Only take medication prescribed by your physician, and then only use it as directed
  • Avoid extremely hot baths, as well as a hot tub

To avoid picking up every germ that comes your way, get into the habit of washing your hands often. Forget antibacterial soaps, as they only work as well as soap and water and they also promote antibiotic resistance. Instead, rely on good, old-fashioned soap and warm water. In order to make regular hand soap as effective as antibacterial soap, make sure you wash your hands for the recommended amount of time. When washing with plain soap and water, within 15 seconds 90 percent of all bacteria and germs are killed. To kill the remaining germs, wash for a full 2 minutes.

To make sure your hand-washing regimen is correct, follow these steps:

  • If using soft soap, place soap on the palm of your hand. If using bar soap, lather up.
  • Clean the backs of your hands first.
  • Scrub your fingertips next.
  • Then soap up your fingernails.
  • Make sure you clean your thumbs well.
  • Finally, clean between all fingers.
  • Rinse well with warm water.
  • Repeat.
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