What to do for Fever during Pregnancy

While developing a fever during pregnancy is concerning, it is sometimes unavoidable. Even if the cause of the fever is known, and not considered to be dangerous to the expectant mother, there is the concern as to whether the unborn baby is in any danger. The source of the fever may create the greatest risk to the unborn baby, and not the fever itself. However, a fever can still be a threat and should be brought under control.

A low-grade fever of less than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is usually nothing to be concerned about. However, higher fevers, particularly during the first trimester, can be unsafe for your developing baby. Left untreated, a prolonged fever could disrupt the unborn baby’s development. To ensure the safety of your unborn child, it’s important to reduce the fever and to consult your obstetrician or health care provider. As a general rule, if a fever exceeds 101 degrees Fahrenheit, immediate medical attention should be sought.

Not all medications are appropriate for pregnant women. Certain medications should be avoided during pregnancy as they can cross over the placenta and cause complications. Medications intended to reduce a fever are no exception. In addition, certain medications should be avoided all together during the first trimester.

However, when a fever is present, it is important to try to bring it down, which sometimes means using medications. Nevertheless, the first methods you should try should be natural ones.

Don’t:

Don’t ever try “sweating it out”. This is a common myth, and should be avoided altogether, especially for an expectant mother. By wrapping up in warm blankets, taking a hot bath or laying with a heating pad, you raise your body’s temperature even more. Over heating is not good for your undeveloped baby. Studies have found that expectant mothers who had a high fever over a period of time have a higher risk for neural tube defects such as Spina bifida. In addition, researchers have also linked prolonged high fevers, especially in the first trimester, to miscarriage.

Never add rubbing alcohol to a lukewarm bath in an effort to reduce fever. This can cool your body temperature too quickly, increasing the risk of shock. Furthermore, rapid cooling causes chills, which in effect elevates the body’s temperature by raising its metabolism.

Don’t attempt to carry on with every day activities, when running a fever. Getting plenty of rest is especially important in bringing down a fever. Constant physical activity tends to increase the body’s temperature. Remaining active will make getting the fever under control that much more difficult.

Never take Ibuprofen or any other NSAIDs during your pregnancy. The American Council for Drug Education indicates that taking Ibuprofen while pregnant may interfere with blood clotting and increase the possibility of both mother and child experiencing uncontrolled bleeding. If taken in the third trimester, Ibuprofen may impede labor stimulating hormones and reduce the quantity of amniotic fluid prolonging labor and delivery. Newborns whose mothers took NSAIDs during their first trimester have a higher risk of being born with congenital heart defects. And, according to Pregnancy.org, mothers taking Ibuprofen during pregnancy may be more likely to have complications, including an increased risk for miscarriage.

Do:

Use a cold compress. A cold compress can easily be made by running cool water over a hand towel or washcloth. Wring out the excess water, making sure the cloth is still cool to the touch. Fold the cloth so that it extends from ear to ear across your forehead. Check the cloth every 5 to 10 minutes, and refresh it as often as necessary.

Take a lukewarm bath. This is an excellent way to reduce a fever. Start by running the bath with lukewarm water (water that is neither cool nor warm to the touch). Then place yourself into the tub allowing yourself time to acclimate to the water before rinsing your body. The main issue is to bring down the core temperature of your body. Usually 10 minutes in a lukewarm bath is long enough. Be sure to dry off completely and dress in light clothing. Also allow your hair to dry naturally as this will allow your head to stay cool.

Dress in loose, cool, clothing. Exposing as much of your body as possible will allow your sweat glands to be able to release moisture, which in turn, will make you feel more comfortable. The fewer the clothes, the faster the fever will go down.

Be sure to drink plenty of fluids. A fever, especially if it is accompanied by vomiting or diarrhea, can quickly deplete your hydration levels. Your intake of fluids should be higher than normal when a fever is present. If you are nauseated, try sucking on ice chips, or popsicles. The key is to keep well hydrated in order to avoid dehydration.

Additionally, ginger and lemon teas have shown to be incredibly effective at lowering body temperature because the ingredients cause the body to sweat.

If the fever has not subsided after 24 hours or has gotten worse, you should consult your health care provider on what fever reducing medications he/she recommends. Paracetamol or Acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) is safe and usually prescribed by most physicians.