Norovirus in pregnancy: how to spot it & how to treat it

The 'winter vomiting bug' can cause health problems for pregnant women. Here's how to recognise the symptoms, how to treat it and how to prevent it

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If you’ve been feeling nauseous, vomiting, you have an upset stomach, fever, headache and stomach cramps, and aching limbs, the chances are you have the norovirus.

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The norovirus group of viruses are the most common cause of gastroenteritis, or stomach flu, in the UK. It’s also known as the winter vomiting bug, but you can get it any time of year. Pregnant women, young children and the elderly are particularly vulnerable.

You get it through contact with an infected person, by touching something which has the virus on it, or by coming into contact with infected food.

Noroviruses do not directly affect your unborn baby. However, diarrhoea may cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which can be serious. If you suffer from dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, this can put you at risk of developing urinary tract infections and, in the worst case scenario, going into premature labour.

If you’re experiencing symptoms, call your GP and tell them you are pregnant. They will advise you what action to take.

It’s important to make sure you don’t become dehydrated, so keep drinking water (as a rough guide, 200ml after every loose stool). Try to eat small, light meals if you can.

Your doctor may prescribe rehydration drinks (and remember, prescriptions are free while you’re pregnant). Meanwhile, try to get lots of rest until your symptoms have passed.

How can I prevent Norovirus?

The virus is very contagious so if someone you know is experiencing symptoms it’s probably best to avoid them for a few days if possible until they’re feeling better. Wash your hands frequently (particularly after using the loo), and keep food preparation surfaces sterilized. Always eat properly cooked food and wash salad carefully, and avoid eating raw shellfish while you’re pregnant.

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