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What Temperature Is Considered A Fever In Pregnancy?
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  • Getting a fever while pregnant is always be a cause for concern, especially for new moms. Almost always, the first question that will cross a pregnant woman’s mind is, “How will my fever affect my baby?”

    What is considered a fever during pregnancy?

    Feeling hot is typical when pregnant because of the changes your body goes through. These include hormonal changes, increased blood volume, and the little one inside your tummy will start giving off some body heat by the third trimester.

    Other “disturbances in temperature” among pregnant women may sometimes be attributed to inadequate hydration, metabolism changes, and shifts in body fluids, but these are otherwise considered normal.

    The normal temperature range in non-pregnant and pregnant individuals is the same: 36.5 °C – 37.5 °C. “The temperature of 37.6 °C should be considered fever already” in pregnant women, says ob-gyn and infectious disease specialist, Dr. Ame Lopez.

    Why pregnancy fever needs urgent attention

    According to Dr. Carolyn Perez-Par, currently the chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Region 2 Trauma and Medical Center, anything that results in a significant temperature increase could potentially affect the fetus.

    “Fatigue, dizziness, nausea, chills, vomiting, weakness, headache, cough are accompanying signs of fever that warrants further investigation by a physician,” Dr. Perez-Par says.

    She adds it is equally important to know which trimester a pregnant woman is in when a fever occurs.

    Fever, which is usually a sign of infection in pregnant and non-pregnant individuals, can mean several things. It needs to be monitored, especially if it occurs during the first trimester.

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    Citing studies, Dr. Perez-Par says that perinatal infections have more severe fetal effects when they occur early in gestation. The first trimester infections may affect organogenesis or the development of the embryo.

    “High-grade fever may cause teratogenic (birth defects) effects to the fetus in the first trimester,” she says and adds that second and third-trimester infections can cause growth disturbances or neurologic impairment.

    The appropriate treatment is given depending on what accompanies the fever and when. These are the reasons why a doctor’s visit is a must when a pregnant woman gets a fever, even if it’s associated with, say, the flu or the common cold.

    “Doctors will have to rule out clinical conditions such as respiratory infections due to physiological changes in pregnancy; pneumonia, pyelonephritis (inflammation of the kidney due to a bacteria), genital tract infections, or viral infections, among others,” says Dr. Perez-Par.

    She adds that changes in the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy can make a pregnant woman more prone to severe illness, thus the urgency in giving treatment.

    Fever in pregnancy treatment and medication

    Sickness like the flu or colds are examples of viral infections, while strep throat and urinary tract infection can stem from a bacterial infection. Either way, both groups of infections warrant consultation with a physician because they are still a cause for concern for both the baby and the mother, says Dr. Lopez.

    Paracetamol is the safest and most common medication for pregnant women. However, we recommend you consult with your doctor before taking one.

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    “Paracetamol can be safely taken by pregnant women temporarily to bring down the fever while waiting to be seen and evaluated by a physician. But, the physician should be informed during the consultation about the time when paracetamol was taken,” points out Dr. Lopez.

    When it comes to antibiotic use, specific guidelines should be followed because not all antibiotics are safe and can be prescribed in pregnancy. On the other hand, “other medications indicated for the cause of fever are prescribed and weighed based on benefits and risks,” adds Dr. Lopez.

    “Overall, therapeutic guidelines for a particular illness should be applied to pregnant women depending on their signs and symptoms and other clinical presentations,” concludes Dr. Perez-Par.

    The one thing to never forget when you have pregnancy fever 

    We can’t control everything that happens to us, but we can take precautions to keep the fever at bay and ensure the little bun is safe in the oven, especially during this pandemic.

    • Wash your hands, disinfect with alcohol, or take a bath, especially after you’ve been out to do the groceries or to visit your doctor.
    • Drink lots of water or take cool showers, so you keep your body temperature at a comfortable level.
    • According to What to Expect, avoid raw foods such as meat and fish and unpasteurized cheese to prevent exposure to listeria bacteria, which may cause high-grade fever.

    If you suspect you have a pregnancy fever, don’t forget to take your temperature, especially if it happens in the middle of the night. Your doctor will likely ask you about it once you get to visit the clinic or call.

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    Always have a thermometer within reach in the home to easily record your temperature when you suspect a fever.

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