How to treat a stomach virus while pregnant? Stomach flu during pregnancy is not very uncommon but becomes a really big problem with the pregnancy symptoms clubbed along with your stomach bug situation.
Let’s understand what exactly is stomach flu or a stomach bug.
How is it caused, what can be done to prevent it and what are the symptoms that indicate you need to visit your doctor?
1. What are Stomach Bugs?
The medical term or the medical condition is called gastroenteritis, this can happen to almost anyone at any time of their lives.
Usually, this is of two types – viral gastroenteritis and bacterial gastroenteritis. The virus that usually is the causal agent for viral gastroenteritis is called the rotavirus.
Since it had been more common in children, vaccines have now been designed which protect them from the rotavirus.
Norovirus is another virus that causes ‘winter vomiting’ in adults and children.
Bacterial gastroenteritis is caused usually by food poisoning. Pregnant women are more susceptible to catching infections because their body undergoes changes that also affect their immune system.
Although it does not affect the fetus directly it does lead to a lot of discomfort for the mother.
2. Types of Stomach Viruses you May Get in Pregnancy
As discussed above the two most common types of virus that a pregnant lady can catch are Norovirus and Rotavirus.
Although they are short-lived anywhere between 12 hours and 2 days they are very contagious.
A person can get infected by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated, not cleaning and washing hands regularly, and touching your mouth and face with dirty hands.
You can also catch the infection by being in close contact with infected people, eating uncooked food, or touching any contaminated surface.
3. Stomach Virus Risks by Trimester
As stated above the body undergoes a lot of changes in structure, hormonal balance, and immunity, which sometimes makes it more prone to catching infections/diseases.
But even then it should be noted that the fetus is very well protected by the body and no virus can come in direct contact as the womb is almost impenetrable.
The problem comes when the mother gets severely affected by something which leads to the weakening of her immune system or overuse of the immune system, which might lead to some complications.
3.1. The First Trimester
It is very early in the first trimester and you are highly likely to be unaware of your pregnancy in cases when it is not planned.
These initial 12 weeks are very essential for the baby’s growth and development.
Although all the baby parts that are formed are the size of a gummy bear, it is a very fragile stage, and catching a stomach virus at such a time would be very risky for the spine.
3.2. The Second Trimester
Although it is comparatively a better and more secure period, the baby here is growing rapidly.
Little problems or infections will not really affect the baby but a serious infection might lead to problems during the baby’s development.
And if the mother’s consumption of food and fluids is reduced it has an ill effect on the baby.
3.3. The Third Trimester
A severe stomach infection can be a big problem in this period because if you have a stomach bug accompanied by severe stomach cramps it might lead to early labor before your term is over.
If the mother is very dehydrated the baby doesn’t get enough water which may also lead to the same.
Another problem with dehydration is the reduction in the amniotic fluid which might affect your baby’s feed too.
4. Treating a Stomach Virus while you’re Pregnant
These are some things that should be taken care of when you catch a stomach bug while you’re pregnant.
4.1. Consuming Fluids
Keep yourself adequately hydrated if you’re having the stomach flu, consuming water will make you feel better.
You can also drink herbal teas or other warm water-based beverages which your doctor approves.
4.2. Correct Food
Avoid consumption of food that is spicy or vinegary, this will affect your gut and can also trigger heartburn which in turn would lead to vomiting.
4.3. Consume Ginger
Sleep in pregnancy gets difficult and having a bad stomach infection can make it worse.
Consume ginger in a small amount before you sleep this helps to neutralize the acids in your stomach and gingerol present in ginger also has an anti-inflammatory effect on the stomach.
Suck on a hard candy like sour or peppermint.
This balances the acids in your stomach and helps to hold down your food thus preventing nausea and vomiting.
4.5. Rest Well
It is not limited to stomach infections but in pregnancy generally, rest is very essential and the best remedy for all problems in your body.
Rest well and feel better, get small naps or watch a show while you relax on the couch.
5. Prevention of a Stomach Flu
Although there is no proof or perfect method to prevent stomach flu, there are some habits that you can acquire to reduce the chance of getting infected.
5.1. Washing Hands
It is important to constantly wash your hands and wash them nicely.
Whenever you visit a restroom, change a diaper, prepare food, or handle raw ingredients like meats make sure you disinfect your hands by thoroughly washing them.
Take extra care when you come in contact with an infected person, or generally after you come back home from outside.
5.2. Watch What You Eat
It is very important to take care of what is getting inside your body. Make sure anything that you are consuming raw is washed very nicely, peeled if possible, and any damaged parts removed beforehand, and make sure that all items that are to be consumed after cooking are well-cooked.
Salads and partially cooked foods should be avoided and do not consume anything that can breed bacterial infection like reheated food, eggs, or pate.
6. Final Thoughts
As you know that there are practically no medicines that can cure your stomach bug so it is best to be very careful while you’re pregnant.
The symptoms however can be alleviated with the use of certain medications but consumption of a lot of medicines is not advised during pregnancy, so what you need to remember here is ‘prevention is better than cure’.