What is it?
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.
How do you catch it?
Through contact with an infected person, by touching something which has the virus on it, or by coming into contact with infected food.
What are the symptoms?
Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and sometimes a fever, headache, stomach cramps and aching limbs. Diarrhoea may cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, which can be serious.
Can it affect my baby?
Noroviruses do not directly affect your unborn baby. However, 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.
What can I do?
First of all, you need to call your GP and tell them you are pregnant and experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis/norovirus. 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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