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Pregnant Proximity Prognosis
February 11, 2010 1:55 PM   Subscribe

The situation: Wife is 8 weeks or so weeks along in her pregnancy. I woke up this morning after 12 hours of sleep (about double normal) with a fever (103F) that has subsided down to low grade (101F). This question isn't about me however, I generally bounce back from occasional flu like stuff and this shouldn't be any different. (YANMYD, etc). Should I be avoiding physical contact with the wife until we sort out what this illness is? Should we change the bedsheets/etc so we don't expose her? This is both of our first passes at this whole baby making business so we don't want to screw it up, and that includes being overly paranoid and over the top reactionaries to normal every day stuff.

Tertiary, complimentary and probably unnecessary data points.

Both of us early 30's, both healthy, no pregnancy problems, both of us extremely excited and probably ridiculously over cautious with the pregnancy thing.

I am going to the doc regardless because it's time for a check up. I am going to call the nurses line, neither of us have had any flu shots.

I guess we're looking for some guidance on how being exposed to sick persons during pregnancy is risky to the pregnancy, the baby books seem to leave a lot of this out. We are not germ/bacteria/etc adverse type of people generally, and understand that we encounter persons with varying flu levels throughout our daily lives without realizing it.

Thank you for any guidance (however anecdotal). anon because we haven't even told our families about the whole deal and it just wouldn't be right to let all of the filter know ahead of them
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
 
Congratulations! I'm not a doctor, but I am 16 weeks pregnant with my first! I was sick around 9 weeks with a cold that felt horrible and lasted about 10 days. My doctor said that during pregnancy, the immune system isn't as hardcore as it usually is, so even small colds can feel like the flu. It's probably smart to avoid close contact, wash hands and surfaces, and practice good hygiene. If she does get sick, it's not something to panic over, your doctor can tell you what medications are safe for her to take. When I was worried about being sick, my doctor told me that pregnant ladies get colds all the time, and unless there was a fever (which may be dangerous to the fetus), there wasn't that much to worry about (that won't stop you from worrying though...you're gonna worry about lots of things!) Congratulations again!
posted by katypickle at 2:19 PM on February 11, 2010


According to Michael S. Broder in The Panic-Free Pregnancy (note that "you" refers specifically to the expectant mother, not the general "you" reading this):

re colds: "Colds are no more dangerous to you now than before you got pregnant. Cold viruses cannot be passed on to your fetus, do not cause birth defects, and do not cause pregnancy complications." (p. 99)

re influenza: "You should most definitely get a flu shot.*...During pregnancy, influenza can be an even worse illness than when not pregnant. Women who develop flu during pregnancy are more likely to end up in the hospital with heart or lung problems than nonpregnant women who get it." (p. 100)

*According to the CDC: "If you are sick with a fever when you go to get your flu shot, you should talk to your doctor or nurse about getting your shot at a later date. However, you can get a flu shot at the same time you have a respiratory illness without fever or if you have another mild illness."
posted by scody at 2:19 PM on February 11, 2010


Regarding what scody said about getting the flu shot, my obgyn suggested I not get the flu shot since I would be in my first trimester during the beginning of flu season. I'm not sure if another doctor will tell you something different, but that's my experience.
posted by katypickle at 2:23 PM on February 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Certainly, Anon, your wife should check in with her OBGYN first about the vaccine. That said, "the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seasonal flu shots for anyone who will be pregnant during flu season—typically November through March—unless you have a severe allergy to eggs or you've had a severe reaction to a previous flu vaccination." More details from the CDC and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (with additional information about the H1N1 vaccine).
posted by scody at 2:36 PM on February 11, 2010


My wife was fastidious about avoiding sick people (including me) while she was pregnant; but hey, there's air everywhere. She got sick twice and each time were pretty miserable (try enjoying a cold without decongestants.. oy!) but they passed within a few days and were livable.

Unless you think you have swamp fever, or you have traditionally given what you might pass off as a harmless sniffle into the bubonic plague for her, I think you both can just chill a bit and let nature do her thing. [I am not a doctor, I am not licensed to practice anything other than ancient subgenius medicine].

And yeah, I would consult her OBGYN regarding vaccinations -- our OBGYN was pretty much on speed dial for the pregnancy, much like our Pediatrician is now.
posted by cavalier at 2:51 PM on February 11, 2010


Also, anecdotally, you are goin to freak out about everything. Welcome to first baby pregnancy. Repeat after me,

"Millions upon millions of people have done this. People without the same conveniences, access to medical technology, that whole thing. I can do this. We can do this. This is a miracle, this is a journey. This is life."

You can add "ommmmmmmmmmm" if you want before or after that. Welcome to anticipatory parenting!!
posted by cavalier at 2:54 PM on February 11, 2010


Change the sheets.
Sleep in another room til you are well again.

Or have her sleep in another room, since you are the one who is sick, so you get the good bed. In that case, no need to change the sheets until she is ready to move back in.


No snogging.
Use your own toothbrush, etc.

Both of you should get flu shots when you are well again.
posted by SLC Mom at 2:56 PM on February 11, 2010


Nthing most all of what has been said above,but you were probably the most contagious before you had symptoms. It's really too late to move into the other room, avoid contact, etc. Good common sense things like hand washing, etc., is well advised for the duration of the pregnancy, but the horse is out of the barn as far as your present illness is concerned.
posted by Old Geezer at 4:45 PM on February 11, 2010


Not a doctor, but have been pregnant throughout this entire flu season. If she does get sick, my understanding is that beyond general misery/malaise the only thing she has to worry about this early in pregnancy is a prolonged fever, which can be harmful to the developing fetus. So keep an eye on it! It can get more dangerous later as she loses room in her ribcage, but she's only 8 weeks so there's plenty of room for her to breathe now if she gets congested.

In short, definitely call your doctor if she comes down with fever, but otherwise don't worry about it too much (and maybe avoid close contact to minimise the chance of her coming down with anything in the first place!).
posted by sunshinesky at 5:22 PM on February 11, 2010


103 is a pretty high fever; I'd stay away from you if I were her, if only because she can't take anything really effective for fever, and the resulting fatigue on top of first-trimester misery would well and truly suck.

Also, I think the advice about forgoing a flu shot while in first trimester is outdated, according to my OB.
posted by palliser at 7:06 PM on February 11, 2010


I am not a doctor. Pregnant women are more susceptible to pulmonary complications from colds, flu, and fevers. This is because they have increased fluid within their bodies that must be pumped around (to provide a greater cardiac output), and they have leaky relatively capillaries. The inflammatory cytokines that produce the fever are part of this process. This unfortunate process can lead to pulmonary edema within pregnant women that progresses surprisingly quickly, especially compared with how you expect the process to develop within non-pregnant people. As a result, the influenza vaccine is one of the first injections recommended as part of prenatal care. The consequences of URIs and pregnancy were amply demonstrated during the recent H1N1 attack season. ACOG, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists strongly urges that early vaccination of pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant women should be a standard of care.
posted by meehawl at 9:19 PM on February 11, 2010


if you're worried, change the sheets, swab down the bathroom, and sleep in a separate room while you're not feeling well. there's no harm in doing any of this if it makes you feel better. meanwhile, call her doctor and see what they recommend.
posted by thinkingwoman at 12:36 AM on February 12, 2010


Yes it's possible (but unlikely) for flu-like symptoms to be caused by infections that can harm unborn babies.

An example.
posted by emilyw at 2:03 AM on February 12, 2010


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