What Happens When You Get Food Poisoning While Pregnant?

If you've ever suffered from food poisoning, you know that it can be pretty miserable. From diarrhea to nausea to vomiting, the symptoms of food poisoning are just no fun. And when you throw pregnancy into the mix, it can get even more worrisome.

"Food poisoning" is actually an umbrella term for a bunch of different kinds of infections, according to WebMD. Your sickness could be due to bacteria, a virus, or even a parasite. The level of sickness depends on how much and which type of contagion has gotten into your system, and how well your immune system is working to fight it off. It can start with stomach cramps as soon as one hour after eating but could show up even 10 days later. 

Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between food poisoning and morning sickness. Morning sickness can present many of the same symptoms, but it usually occurs most often in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy (via Medical News Today). Typical symptoms of food poisoning of food poisoning are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, and may include bloating, fever, stomach pain, muscle aches, and body weakness, per WebMD. Mild cases can be treated at home, but some cases may be so severe that medical attention is needed. If you experience repeated vomiting, dehydration, prolonged diarrhea of more than two days, high fever, severe stomach pain, or blood in the stool, you should contact your doctor right away. Food poisoning is awful for anybody but can be more severe for babies and young children, those who are 65 years or older, people with chronic illness, and pregnant people.

Take extra caution around food poisoning if pregnant

Developing food poisoning while pregnant can be especially concerning, as there's the baby's health, also, that has to be taken into account. During pregnancy, fluctuating hormones can alter the immune system, making you much more prone to infections like food poisoning (via Healthline). Since all the body's energy is going toward growing a new human, it can be more difficult to fight off illness. The baby's immune system is still developing too, making food poisoning more dangerous. 

Dehydration is a major concern for pregnant people experiencing food poisoning, per Healthline. Other complications can include malnutrition and kidney failure, as well as fetal neurological development issues and in extreme cases, miscarriage or stillbirth. 

If you're pregnant, stay away from foods that may contain harmful bacteria, such as raw meat, seafood, and eggs, unpasteurized fruit juices and dairy products, cheese or meat spreads, and packaged meats. It's also important to pay attention to expiration dates, wash produce well, and use a meat thermometer. If you suspect you may have an infection, you should contact your doctor right away. Antibiotics and intravenous fluids may be necessary.