A fever is often a worrisome condition, especially if you are pregnant. It occurs during pregnancy for a variety of reasons, some of which require urgent treatment from a doctor. Although treating your fever will not cure the illness or infection that triggered it, it will help you feel better and prevent any complications such as dehydration.
According to Dr. Randy Fink on the PregnancyToday website, anything higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is considered a fever. A fever can last anywhere from a couple of hours to several days. Besides an increase in temperature, fevers are typically accompanied by additional symptoms such as muscle aches, lack of appetite, fatigue, head pain, shivering, irritability, confusion, dehydration and sweating. If a fever is severe and prolonged, it can trigger febrile seizures.
The increase of the progesterone hormone that occurs during pregnancy often elevates the temperature of the body. Fevers are also often triggered by a virus, bacterial infection, heat exhaustion, a severe sunburn or an inflammatory condition like arthritis. Some medications, such as those used to manage high blood pressure or antibiotics, also contribute to fevers during pregnancy. In addition, certain immunizations, like tetanus or acellular pertussis, trigger fevers.
Contact your doctor if you develop a fever while pregnant to rule out a serious infection or condition. If the fever is not determined serious, treat it at home by taking the appropriate dose of acetaminophen and placing a cold washcloth over your forehead. Alternatively, take a lukewarm bath or rub a wet sponge or washcloth over your entire body to cool yourself off and lower your temperature. Remove any extra layers of clothing and circulate the air in the room with a fan or air conditioner. Drink water and fluids often to cool your body internally and keep hydrated.
Do not allow your fever to go untreated. Fevers, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy, can cause birth defects and even premature birth. In addition, the conditions that trigger a fever, such as an infection or illness like chicken pox, are often dangerous to your unborn baby. An intra-amniotic infection, where bacteria infects that amniotic fluid that surrounds your baby, also triggers contractions and requires that your baby be born no matter his age.