When you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, your body is working hard on more than just sustaining your own needs. That’s why pregnant and breastfeeding moms take extra caution over external exposures to things that may affect their babies, especially when it comes to food. But do you know what to do if you have food poisoning while pregnant or breastfeeding? We’re covering that topic today.
Food Poisoning while Pregnant
For moms who already have morning sickness and often feel nauseous and weak, food poisoning can be a double whammy. Pregnant women are more susceptible to foodborne illnesses because their immune systems are not as strong as they are under normal circumstances. The body’s primary focus during pregnancy is supporting the developing baby, which unfortunately compromises the mother’s immune system.
Beyond the way a mom-to-be feels from the symptoms of food poisoning, there is added stress because she is also worried about the safety of her baby. If an expectant mother believes she has food poisoning – characterized by nausea, vomiting, headache, fever, upset stomach and diarrhea – she should call her doctor immediately. The three most common types of food poisoning – listeria, e. coli and salmonella – may have serious side-effects for an unborn baby including neurological defects, weakened linings in the blood vessels, kidney problems, meningitis, and bacterial infection in the bloodstream. In severe cases food poisoning can cause miscarriage, premature birth or still birth.
However, the most common side-effect of food poisoning while pregnant is dehydration. Vomiting and diarrhea can quickly dehydrate the body. Sipping water consistently during bouts of food poisoning is vital to helping mothers maintain adequate fluid levels for their baby’s development as well as flushing out the cause of the food poisoning so the mother can recover.
Due to their weakened immune systems, pregnant women are urged to take extra caution to avoid risk of food poisoning. Moms-to-be should not consume raw fish, meat or eggs and should not eat any packaged meats or meat or cheese spreads. Also, unpasteurized fruits, vegetables, juices or milk are at risk of contamination too.
Food Poisoning while Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can usually continue during most types of common illnesses including food poisoning. While it may be unpleasant to nurse a baby when a new mom is feeling miserable, in most cases the microbe that caused the food poisoning would not enter her breast milk. Because adequate water consumption is essential to producing breast milk, it is essential to continue to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
It’s only if a mother is hospitalized because the bacterial, viral or toxic cause of the food poisoning entered her bloodstream that she may need to temporarily pause breastfeeding during treatment. The baby may then need to be treated if breastfed before symptoms appeared. The family’s doctors would advise on the best course of action for both mother and baby. Should a new mom need to suspend breastfeeding for a short time, pumping and dumping breast milk is the best option to ensure her milk supply is not affected post-illness.
Keep your little one safe by knowing the causes, precautions, symptoms and course of action should you get food poisoning while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Sources: Kellymom, Healthline, LiveStrong, and WebMD