A fever is an increase in your body temperature. It usually happens when you’re sick and is a sign that your body is fighting off an infection. The average body temperature is 98.6°F (37°C). For a woman who is pregnant, a body temperature over 101°F (38.3°C) may be a concern. Fevers early in pregnancy may be linked to birth defects, like neural tube defects, and other problems in your baby. A birth defect is a health condition that is present at birth. Birth defects change the shape or function of one or more parts of the body. They can cause problems in overall health, how the body develops, or in how the body works. Neural tube defects are birth defects of the brain and spinal cord.
Signs and symptoms
Aside from an increase in body temperature, other signs and symptoms of a fever may include:
- Chills and shivering
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- General weakness
If you’re pregnant and have a fever, it’s very important to contact your health care provider. She can then determine what is causing your fever and if you need additional treatment. Most pregnant women can take acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®). Make sure you follow the directions on the product label and check with your provider before you take any medication.
Here are some tips that you can take that may reduce your chances of getting sick:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Wash hands before preparing or eating food, after handling raw meat, raw eggs or unwashed vegetables. Wash them after being around pets or animals and after changing diapers or wiping runny noses.
- Get your flu shot. It’s safe to get the flu shot during pregnancy. It protects you and your baby from serious health problems during and after pregnancy.
- Try to avoid people who are sick. If you’re sick, stay home. Don’t share your dishes, glasses, utensils or toothbrush.
- Make sure you’re up to date with all your vaccinations. Vaccinations can help protect you and your baby from certain infections during pregnancy.
- Handle foods safely. And avoid raw meat, fish, eggs & unpasteurized foods to prevent food poisoning.
Again, make sure you contact your health care provider if you have a fever and are pregnant. Your provider can make sure that you get the treatment you need to help you to start feeling better.