Experiencing pregnancy chills? This is why you should phone your doctor ASAP

Although pregnancy comes with a host of physical changes, you should go to your doctor if you experience pregnancy chills or if you run a fever. The truth is, this could be indicative of a health condition that’s unrelated to your pregnancy and should be managed carefully.

ALSO SEE: 10 pregnancy warning signs to look out for

Here are a few instances why expectant moms could be experiencing pregnancy chills (and a fever):

A viral or bacterial cold

Because your immune system is already suppressed (and changes a lot) during pregnancy, it’s not uncommon to pick up a viral or bacterial infection. In fact, according to the American Pregnancy Association, your illness may even last longer than the average 7-10 days and can be accompanied by chills and a fever. Even if you don’t normally suffer with chills and a fever when you have a cold, there’s a good chance you’ll experience this during pregnancy – because of your compromised immune system.

Prevention and treatment:

  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Ensure you’re taking in sufficient fluids
  • Exercise moderately most days of the week
  • Always take your prenatal vitamins, along with probiotics
  • Use a humidifier to relieve congestion and treat a sore throat by gargling with warm salt water.

Should you see the doctor? 

If your fever rises above 38°C and you’re struggling to eat or sleep, it’s important to see your doctor. He or she will be able to prescribe safe medications, which could include an antibiotic if you have a bacterial infection.

ALSO SEE: Your ultimate pregnancy medication safety checklist

The influenza virus

The influenza virus often comes with body aches, fatigue, fever and chills and can be difficult to manage during pregnancy. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can become more susceptible to severe illness from flu or complications that could result in a hospital stay because your immune system changes so much during pregnancy. A common symptom of flu is a fever, and if left unmanaged, it can be harmful to your unborn baby.

Prevention and treatment:

Go for the flu vaccine. Experts say it reduces the risk of infection and complications. A 2018 study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases showed that getting a flu shot reduced a pregnant woman’s risk of being hospitalised with flu by an average of 40%. The good news is, they are safe to have during pregnancy and won’t affect your unborn baby.

ALSO SEE: Everything you need to know about the flu vaccine

Here are the most common places you’re likely to catch a flu virus. Avoid these areas during your pregnancy or make sure to wash your hands and use a hand sanitiser regularly:

  • Escalators
  • Airports
  • Restaurants and fast food outlets
  • Supermarket basket and trolley handles
  • Public toilets

According to the American Pregnancy Association, it’s also wise to see your doctor who will be able to prescribe safe antiviral medication to avoid further complications.

ALSO SEE: Coronavirus and pregnancy: should you be concerned?

A urinary tract infection

Although many women suffer from urinary tract infections (UTIs), it’s more common in pregnancy. This is because of the changes in the urinary tract. As members of the American Pregnancy Association explain, “The uterus sits directly on top of the bladder. As the uterus grows, its increased weight can block the drainage of urine from the bladder, causing a bacterial infection in the urinary tract.”

Besides a painful or burning sensation when you urinate, one of the most common symptoms of a UTI is chills and fever. And, if the bacteria spreads to your kidneys, you may experience more severe chills and shivers, as well as nausea and vomiting.

Prevention and treatment:

Generally, gynaecologists will check your urine at every check-up.  They will also do an ultrasound to ensure your urine is clear and there’s no sign of infection.

If, however, you do contract a UTI during your pregnancy, you’ll need an antibiotic right away, as the risk of a kidney infection needs to be eliminated. There are some safe antibiotics you can take during pregnancy. Kidney infections have been linked to early labour as well as babies born at a low birth weight.

ALSO SEE: 3 things doctors look for in your urine during pregnancy

A specific pregnancy-related complication like preeclampsia

Preeclampsia, also known as toxemia, is a pregnancy complication marked by extremely high blood pressure in women. It’s also linked to the placenta not functioning as it should. As a result, it can pose a serious risk to your unborn baby. Other symptoms are swelling in the feet, hands and legs as well as a high level of protein in the urine, plus shivers or a fever.

ALSO SEE: 3 placenta problems explained

Prevention and treatment:

Although preeclampsia is largely genetic and can’t always be avoided, the American Pregnancy Association says you might be told to do the following if you do have mild preeclampsia:

  • Rest, lying more on your left side to take the weight off your major blood vessels
  • Consume less salt and drink more water
  • Eat more protein
  • See your gynae for more regular check-ups so you can be monitored.

According to the National Institutes of Health, if you’re 37 weeks pregnant or more, your doctor may want to deliver your baby as soon as possible.

If you’re less than 37 weeks, your doctor might recommend bed rest to lower your blood pressure and support blood flow to the placenta.

You’ll also need to be monitored closely and continuously as there’s not much you can do to cure preeclampsia. This means it’s more of a “wait-it-out” approach.

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