Food Poisoning In Pregnancy

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Only a week after I found out I was pregnant I started feeling unwell. Within a day I felt achy and shivery. I had nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea – all at the same time. I wondered if I had severe morning sickness, but after 4 days and a visit to the GP I was told that it was more than likely food poisoning. But how do you deal with food poisoning in pregnancy?

Food Poisoning In Pregnancy

Food Poisoning In Pregnancy

Food poisoning is a pretty common reason for gastroenteritis symptoms at any time of year. The symptoms I had of

  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • achy muscles and shivers
  • fever
  • abdominal cramps

are pretty common too, usually starting 2-5 days after exposure to the bug. The bugs most likely for the food poisoning are

  • e. coli
  • salmonella
  • norovirus (or the winter vomiting bug) and
  • campylobacter

Turned out, once the doctor had taken a stool sample and had it tested that my food poisoning was down to campylobacter.

How Did I Get Infected With Campylobacter?

The most common source of campylobacter is undercooked meat, especially poultry. Or poor food handling leading to contamination of other foods with uncooked food. I had eaten a takeaway a couple of days before becoming ill and the GP seemed to think that was the source (we never ordered from there again!).

But other sources of food poisoning could be unpasteurised milk and dairy products including cheese. Or reheating or cooling foods incorrectly, especially rice. And finally from handling pets or contaminated items from a person unwell with food poisoning.

Now normally, had I got a stomach upset I would have taken loperamide (Imodium) and not eaten for a few days. But I was really worried. How would food poisoning in pregnancy affect my baby?

Food Poisoning In Pregnancy

Treating Food Poisoning in Pregnancy

Firstly, taking medicine for the diarrhoea was out of the question. Loperamide is not suitable for use in pregnant women. But what I could do was

  • rest – I stayed in bed and rested as much as possible. (The rest of the family will have to manage.)
  • stay rehydrated as much as possible, by sipping water as often as I felt I could.
  • use oral rehydration tablets. These are fine to use in pregnancy, and are very good to replace all the lost salts from diarrhoea and sickness.
  • Once I felt able to eat a little, I followed the BRAT diet. Bananas, rice, apples and toast. Or other bland diet items that will not upset your stomach. It is also best to avoid too much dairy, fruit, fruit juice and fizzy drinks, as these can make your upset stomach worse.

There are antibiotics that can be taken in pregnancy, but I was very averse to taking anything unless I really needed to. You could also take paracetamol for the fever if you felt it necessary.

Also it is worth remembering
  • While you are ill, don’t handle food or prepare food for others.
  • It is important to clean thoroughly a toilet and wash area after you have used it, with a bleach solution.
  • Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly and do not share towels with anyone who is ill.
  • Wash any soiled bedding with a very hot wash
  • Do not return to work for at least 24 hours after symptoms of food poisoning have ended.
But How Do I Prevent Getting Food Poisoning In Pregnancy?
  • Avoid contact with people who have possibly got food poisoning or gastroenteritis symptoms.
  • Ensure you wash your hands well after touching nappies and using toilets.
  • Also wash hands well after handling raw meats. And ensure good food hygiene by keeping raw meats on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
  • Cook food well and do not eat any pink chicken.
  • Take care when reheating food (or avoid it all together).
  • Avoid handling animal litter such as cat litter, and cover garden sand pits, as neighbouring animals may use it as a litter tray!

Finally, in pregnancy, there is a list of foods to avoid such as unpasteurised milk and cheese, runny or raw eggs, shellfish and cured meats. This is for a really good reason. Do avoid these. Ultimately, I even avoided the ice cubes, salads, mayonnaise and feta cheese on my holiday to Crete whilst pregnant, because after my first run in with food poisoning in pregnancy, I did not want to risk a repeat. 

Even weeks after the initial symptoms had subsided, I had stomach cramps and bloating. Once I had my baby, I had all manner of issues with pain and bloating. Apparently pregnancy can play havoc with your digestive system. Mine has never been the same again. How much of this is due to the campylobacter I will never know.

I thought that I was pretty good with food hygiene, yet I still suffered with food poisoning in pregnancy. I hope that the same does not happen again to anyone else! Take care and stay well!

Why not pin me for later?

Food Poisoning In Pregnancy

Enjoyed this? Read more about my pregnancy at 43.

And how after birth I suffered with real problems, which have been diagnosed as adhesions.

18 Replies to “Food Poisoning In Pregnancy”

  1. Sally says:

    Congratulations on your pregnancy! I’m 21 weeks 🙂 sorry to hear that you’ve been unwell though. That’s rubbish.


    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Oh this post is written well after the fact! But it is amazing how different my digestive system is after pregnancy. Was the Campylobacter to blame? I will never know…Thank you for reading

  2. Fiona Cambouropoulos says:

    Food poisoning sounds most unpleasant at the best of times but so much more so in pregnancy. Good food hygiene is essential but it sounds like you did this and might just have been unlucky or possibly caught it eating out of the home? I hope your system begins to settle down with time. Some great tips shared #GlobalBlogging

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you Fiona. Never nice, but yes, felt twice as hard when pregnant. Thank you for reading.

  3. Raisie Bay (@RaisieBay) says:

    It’s always twice the worry when you are pregnant. I remember being so worried about everything I put in my body while carrying my babies. Thankfully I never got sick but I’m sorry you did. Sharing your experience and advice should help other mums.

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you. Yes, it was a worrying time, and just hope that it does help someone else.

  4. Louisa says:

    Sound advice. Food poisoning is awful let alone having it while pregnant. I always make my children throw away leftover rice barbecue I always worry about reheating it and the risks it poses #mmbc

  5. Mrs Mummy Harris says:

    This is one thing I was petrified about when cooking and pregnant. Hubby can’t cook so it was always up to me and when you’re exhausted it’s hard to make sure you’re cooking well 100% of the time!
    I’m so glad my craving was McDonald’s chicken nuggets so I lived off them instead hahaha!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week.

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      I must admit, my craving was Haribo by the end of the pregnancy. Thank you for reading!

  6. Heather Keet says:

    How scary to get food poisoning while pregnant, I’m so glad you were able to rest and recover. The BRAT diet is amazing, it can really help reorient your body after an illness like diarrhea and vomiting. #GlobalBlogging

  7. sheri says:

    Food poisoning is dangerous any time let alone during pregnancy, glad to hear you recovered quickly. Nice post.

  8. Jo Boyne says:

    It luckily didn’t coincide with morning sickness, I could not imaging how that would have felt! Thank you for reading

  9. Evelyn says:

    Oh my, that’s was unfortunate. I can’t imaging how it must have felt. Thank goodness everything worked out well. I remember my doc telling me not to clean up after our dog when I was pregnant. I think any animal droppings were off limits if I remember correctly.

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Yes, I couldn’t clean the cat little when pregnant. And yes, it is a good job but nothing was affected


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