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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 is a pretty common reason for gastroenteritis symptoms at any time of year. The symptoms I had of
- achy muscles and shivers
- 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
- norovirus (or the winter vomiting bug) and
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?
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?
Enjoyed this? Read more about my pregnancy at 43.
And how after birth I suffered with real problems, which have been diagnosed as adhesions.