Pregnancy is a beautiful experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s free of fear. Your immune system changes so much during this time! And while this is perfectly normal, it can also be hard for your body to fight off infection. Food poisoning is especially dangerous. On its own, pregnancy can bring on a lot of anxiety. Am I doing this right? Is this food healthy? Should I exercise more or less? Your mind is probably swirling with a million questions. Top it off with a bout of food poisoning and stress hikes up to another level.
According to the Food & Drug Administration, food poisoning is especially harmful to unborn babies. Your little one’s immune system hasn’t fully developed just yet. When foreign microorganisms enter the picture, the risk for health issues increase. Miscarriage, premature delivery, and stillbirth are possible. In severe cases, the mother might even die. But don’t panic just yet. With the help of a doctor, food poisoning during pregnancy can be treated.1
Symptoms Of Food Poisoning
Symptoms are more severe in high-risk groups such as elders, children, and pregnant mothers.2
- Diarrhea, with or without blood
- Stomach cramps
How Do You Get Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning happens after consuming food or water contaminated with certain germs. This may happen if food handlers don’t wash their hands, equipment, or utensils. If ingredients aren’t cooked to proper temperatures, microorganisms might also linger. This is especially important with raw foods like meat or eggs.3
Most Common Foodborne Germs
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the following germs as the most common reasons behind this foodborne illness.4
- Clostridium perfringens
- Staphylococcus aureus
Treating Food Poisoning During Pregnancy
Obviously, don’t try to treat food poisoning by yourself. The baby’s life is at stake! Visit the doctor as soon as possible and follow their instructions carefully. In most cases, the treatment plan will look a little something like this.
Depending on your symptoms, a doctor may prescribe pregnancy-safe antibiotics. These drugs will eliminate the infection while protecting the baby. However, as always, complete the full course of treatment even if the symptoms subside.
Dehydration is a major complication of food poisoning, especially if you are vomiting and have diarrhea. It’s even more crucial if you’re pregnant. Recovery highly depends on hydration, so be sure to drink lots of fluids such as filtered water, fruit juice, broth, or tea.
How To Prevent Food Poisoning
Every year, about 48 million Americans catch a foodborne illness. Avoid being one of those people with these simple habits.5
1. Avoid Eating Uncooked Or Raw Meat
Love sushi and medium rare burgers? Avoid these foods during pregnancy. Uncooked, raw meat has a high risk of carrying harmful germs. Also, when storing raw meat, keep it away from other foods.
2. Clean Kitchen Equipment
From cutting boards to knives, everything should be completely sanitized. Obviously, it is harder to keep tabs on this when eating out. It’s a great reason to dine at home when possible.
3. Wash Your Hands
Before and after cooking, wash your hands with warm and soapy water. This should last at least 20 seconds. Do it again before and after eating or using the bathroom.
4. Store Food Properly
Keep cold food in the refrigerator or freezer. Meanwhile, hot food should be kept hot, or reheated properly. Avoid eating perishable foods that have been sitting at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
5. Wash Fruits And Vegetables
Before eating, cutting, or cooking fruits and veggies, give them a good wash. Many people like to use white vinegar or a produce brush. Be sure to properly store fruits and vegetables, too.
Follow these habits whether or not you’re pregnant. But when you’ve got a bun in the oven, it’s even more important! Your baby’s health depends on it.
|↑1, ↑3||While You’re Pregnant – What Is Foodborne Illness?. U.S. Food & Drug Administration.|
|↑2, ↑5||Foodborne Illnesses. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑4||Foodborne Germs and Illnesses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|