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Coping with a stomach bug in pregnancy

How to ride out the nasty sickness and diarrhoea that comes with a norovirus stomach bug in pregnancy.
If you've been unfortunate enough to catch the latest stomach bug that's doing the rounds, chances are that you're feeling pretty awful. However, to add to the discomfort and stress of being ill you may also be worrying about the health of your developing baby.

While this is by no means an unreasonable concern, you should try not to worry too much. Your body has all sorts of natural defences in place to protect your baby throughout pregnancy so in all likelihood, no matter how rough you're feeling, your baby will be completely fine.

What to do
  • Get plenty of rest - If you're suffering with sickness and diarrhoea you're likely to be feeling very weak and tired, stomach bugs really take it out of you when you're pregnant as your body is still focusing on nurturing your baby. It's important to get as much rest and possible and to stay tucked up in bed or on the sofa until you're feeling completely recovered.
  • Keep hydrated - It's essential that you stay hydrated so make sure you drink plenty of water, diluted fruit juice, weak tea or clear broth . If you're unable to keep anything down at all, try taking tiny sips of water through a straw or sucking on ice chips.
  • Avoid anti-diarrhoea medication - Anti-diarrhoea medication isn't usually suitable for use in pregnancy so it's advisable to steer clear. You could try drinking lemon and water or ginger tea to try and settle things a little instead. Most rehydration salts and isotonic drinks are safe for pregnancy (although be sure to check the instructions first) and taking these can be a good idea to help top up the important salts and minerals your body has lost.
  • Keep foods simple - Once you feel up to eating something it's important to keep it simple. Plain foods such as white rice, dry toast, plain cereal without milk and bananas are all gentle on your stomach and can give you some much needed energy.
  • Call your doctor - If you feel ill for more than a couple of days (most stomach bugs pass in 48-72 hours), have a high temperature, are struggling to get enough fluids or need reassurance then it's advisable to give your doctor or midwife a call.

Prevention - As with all bugs, prevention is better than a cure and while there is no guarantee you'll be able to fend off the nasties there are a few things you can do to keep yourself healthy.

  • Keep clean - Sickness bugs are usually passed on by direct contact either by touching an infected person or by touching something they have touched (i.e. a door handle or hand rail etc) so it's very important to keep your hands clean. It's particularly important to wash them thoroughly before preparing or eating food and after you've been to the bathroom.
  • Keep healthy - Keeping your body as healthy as possible will mean that your immune system is in better shape to defend itself against any invading bugs and will also make it easier to recover if you do go down with something. Focus on eating a healthy diet including plenty of fruit and vegetables, drinking plenty of water and taking frequent, moderate exercise.
  • Stay away - Wherever possible you should stay away from people who are displaying obvious symptoms of a stomach bug, this is simply a precautionary measure and not something to become overly concerned about.
Whether you've come down with a nasty bug and are looking for reassurance or simply fancy a chat, why not visit the AskBaby Forums and share your advice, concerns and experience with others.

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