Sweating, shivering, loss of appetite — it's never fun to come down with a fever. Usually you treat a fever by curling up in bed and drinking plenty of water, but when you're pregnant, there's a lot more you're considering, like, if you should go to the ER with a fever during pregnancy. Can a spike in your temperature potentially harm your baby? While you might want to panic, take a deep breath and remember that your healthcare providers are ready to help.
Whether you're expecting your first child or your fifth, you may feel anxious when you get a fever. As a quick reassurance, if your temperature is below 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) and you don't have flu-like symptoms, then you don't need to call a health professional straight away, according to the Mayo Clinic. Just keep monitoring your temperature and note any symptoms that arise. But if you're still worried — even if you only have a low fever — go ahead and contact your medical provider. "Don't hesitate to call your doctor's office if you have any elevated temperature," Dr. Eva Martin, the founder of Elm Tree Medical Inc, tells Romper. "Some women worry about calling with a false alarm, but I promise, your doctor would be much happier to hear from you than miss something serious."
If your fever does climb above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, it's time to call your medical provider and possibly go in for a checkup. You could simply have the common cold, but you might have the flu, which sometimes requires an antiviral medication. In general, a fever while pregnant is treatable and isn't always a reason to completely panic. But a study in Annals of Epidemiology found that there was some correlation between women who had fevers right before becoming pregnant or during early pregnancy and neural tube defects in babies. But this risk was also increased when the women who reported having fevers also reported not taking the recommended 400 mcg of folic acid, noted the CDC. So be sure to talk to your doctor about your prenatal vitamins and make sure you're getting the folic acid you need.
While most fevers are nothing to worry about, there are instances, when you should head straight to the emergency room. "If you can't reach your doctor or really feel terrible, then do not hesitate to proceed to the ER," says Dr. Kameelah Phillips, an OB-GYN in New York City and founder of OBaby Maternity and Parent Education. "It's better to be safe than sorry — especially when you are pregnant." Phillips tells Romper you should also look out for symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or the chills, because they can be signs of a urinary tract infection, which can make pregnant women very ill.
Other symptoms to keep an eye on? Shortness of breath or chest pain, according to Dr. Seth Plancher, an OB-GYN based in New York state. But do keep your medical provider in the loop if you decide to go to the hospital. "Always feel free to call your doctor to discuss your symptoms, although it's never wrong to go to the ER, too," he tells Romper.
If you're pregnant with a fever, it's completely understandable to be worried. But remember that your doctor or midwife want to hear from you, and that you always have the option to head to the ER as well. Even if all you get out of a hospital visit is peace of mind, it's worth it. And in the meantime, talk to your healthcare provider about what kind of medication to take to reduce your fever. Mayo Clinic noted that Tylenol and other acetaminophen are generally safe during pregnancy, but reach out to your team just in case.
Kerr S, Parker S, Mitchell A, Tinker S, Werler M. (2017) Periconceptional maternal fever, folic acid intake, and the risk for neural tube defects. Annals of Epidemiology, sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1047279717302624.
Dr. Eva Martin, the founder of Elm Tree Medical Inc
Dr. Kameelah Phillips, OB-GYN and founder of OBaby Maternity and Parent Education
Dr. Seth Plancher, OB-GYN
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