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

Norovirus - or the 'winter vomiting illness' - can cause health problems for pregnant women. Here's how to recognise the symptoms, how to treat it and how to prevent it


In a nutshell: Pregnant women, along with the elderly, and young children, are particularly vulnerable to the sickness bug called norovirus – also known as the winter vomiting illness. If you’re pregnant, Dr Philippa Kaye advises:

Having norovirus doesn't affect the baby but it is all the more important to keep up your fluid intake as dehydration can cause issues in the pregnancy.

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.

What are the symptoms of norovirus in pregnant women?

If you have:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • an upset stomach
  • cramps
  • aching limbs

– then the chances are you have norovirus.

If you’re experiencing symptoms, it’s worth calling your GP and telling them you are pregnant. They will advise you what action to take.

Can having norovirus hurt my baby?

As Dr Philippa mentioned, Norovirus does not directly affect your unborn baby. But diarrhoea may cause dehydration and an electrolyte imbalance that could mean you develop a urinary tract infection which, in the worst case scenario, means you go into premature labour.

As a rough guide, try and drink 200ml of water after after every loose stool, and, if you can, eat small, light meals.

How can I prevent Norovirus from spreading?

“Norovirus spreads like wildfire, but the best way to prevent it spreading as much as possible is good hand hygiene – so wash your hands,” Dr Philippa stresses.

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.

As well as good hand hygiene, keep food preparation surfaces sterilised. Always eat properly cooked food and wash salad carefully, and avoid eating raw shellfish while you’re pregnant.

Pics: Getty

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