Guide to food poisoning during pregnancy

Guide to food poisoning during pregnancy
October 01 18:24 2016 image:

The goal during every pregnancy is to lead a nice and healthy life free of stress and illnesses that could affect your baby. In this regard, most women always nourish their unborn babies by eating well-balanced and nutritious food throughout the duration of pregnancy. In as much as you may eat healthy and even maintain adequate physical activity, food poising can creep up on you and put both your life and that of the fetus at risk. It is important therefore to understand what food poising is, what causes it and how you can constantly protect yourself and the unborn baby from potential food poisoning.

Do not be overwhelmed at all, preventing food poisoning is very easy once you know what causes it and what foods to pay special attention to and possibly avoid. So hang on and read the following information that could prove very vital someday, either to you or someone close.


Understanding food poisoning

Food poisoning happens when you eat something that contains bacteria, viruses, toxic substances. The most common food poisonings are caused by bacteria and parasites.


How to tell you are suffering from food poisoning

There are signs and symptoms that occur after eating a contaminated meal. The most general signs are vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. These signs, however, are not specific to food poisoning and more often can be misinterpreted by many folks. Only a trained physician can be able to tell with real certitude if you are suffering from food poisoning or not.


Is there a way to test food poisoning?

To diagnose food poisoning doctors rely on your history and compare them to your symptoms. More often, food poisoning happens in collectivity and that makes it easier to spot. In the case of collective food poisoning, public health practitioners are able to investigate and pinpoint the causing food. This kind of food poisoning is mostly common with salmonella during summer.


Food poisoning and pregnancy

During pregnancy, food poisoning often leads to anxiety and general feelings of illness. This usually causes the expecting mom to worry a lot and stress about the safety of the unborn baby. In order to avoid such states and maintain a completely healthy body and mind, pregnant women need to practice maximum food safety. This is because of the metabolic and circulation changes that make pregnant women very vulnerable to even the tiniest infections.

If not well managed, food poisoning can lead to dangerous situations for the mum and the baby. In the worst cases, it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature delivery. There some infections caused by specific bacteria like E-coli and salmonella that can cause illness to the fetus and bring about post-birth health problems like fever and diarrhea and in some cases meningitis. Salmonella and campylobacteriosis the two food poisoning infections that are often associated with stillbirth. Listeriosis on the other hand is linked to premature delivery and miscarriage. It also has after birth effects on the baby which can be very severe if not managed properly.

In the majority of cases, food poisoning will not cause major health problems to the unborn baby so don’t stress too much, but food poisoning can, on the other hand, be very unpleasant for you. You just need to learn how to prevent it and possibly notice the early signs in the event of an infection. When you suspect a possible food poisoning situation, do not panic, it is absolutely treatable.


What should you do when you suspect food poisoning?

First things first, if you present with the symptoms we mentioned above, do not waste any time just go and see your doctor immediately. Depending on the state of the symptoms, your doctor might put you on heavy fluids to compensate and replace the fluids you lose when vomiting and diarrhea. So you see, the key is to rehydrate as much as possible, drink lots of water, juice, and soup. Your doctor might even order electrolytes (with minimum sugar) to make sure you and the baby are safe from dehydration.

There are some home remedies that you could use to ease up on nausea and other food poisoning symptoms. Most of these are safe for your pregnancy but its always best to ask your doctor first before using them.

  • Ginger

Ginger is known to cure almost all types of digestive problems, including those caused by food poisoning. Just a cup of ginger tea after eating is enough to stop nausea and other symptoms associated with food poisoning.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has an alkaline effect when it is metabolized in the body. It is through this effect that it can reduce food poisoning symptoms. It soothes the gastrointestinal lining and destroys the bacteria, leading to instant relief.

  • Lemons

Lemons have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial properties that give abdominal relief. The acid in lemons helps kill bacteria that cause food poisoning.

  • Basil

Basil also has great abdominal soothing properties, mostly due to its ability to help the body fight microbes.

  • Garlic

Garlic has strong antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties, in addition, it helps relieve symptoms such as diarrhea and abdominal pain.

  • Bananas

Bananas are rich in potassium, they help restore the potassium that is lost due to vomiting and diarrhea.


Common types of food poisoning

By now you have a better understanding of what food poisoning is but let us take a little step further and look into the different kinds of food poisonings you are most likely to be exposed to during your pregnancy, don’t worry we will just focus on the common ones.

  1. Salmonella

Salmonella is the most common bacteria that causes food poisoning. It usually affects groups of people who eat the same food. This could be at home, parties or in restaurants. It is found in:

  • raw meat
  • poultry
  • unpasteurized milk 
  • raw eggs and its related products

The good news is that salmonella food poisoning less likely to harm your baby, but its diarrhea and vomiting can be pretty severe.

You can reduce the chances of salmonella food poisoning during early pregnancy by:

  • avoiding raw or partially cooked food like meat, poultry, eggs and homemade mayonnaise


  1. Campylobacter

Like Salmonella, Campylobacter is found in:

  • raw and undercooked meat
  • poultry
  • unpasteurized milk 
  • untreated water

Infection by campylobacter is best avoided by:

  • washing your hands thoroughly before preparing and eating food
  • cooking food thoroughly and eating it while it’s still hot
  • good kitchen hygiene
  • drinking safe and treated water
  1. Listeria

Listeria causes a well-known infection called listeriosis. The infection is rare, but very dangerous in pregnant women as it can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or babies born with severe illness. The most common symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, nausea or diarrhea.

Listeria is usually found in unpasteurized milk, pâté, soft cheese, smoked salmon and sliced meats.

listeriosis can be prevented by avoiding consummation of the above-mentioned foods in addition to:

  • heating ready meals or reheated food and consume while it’s still hot
  • keeping your fridge set to very low temperatures

If you are pregnant and get food poisoning by listeria, taking antibiotics can reduce the risks of the infection reaching your unborn baby.


  1. Toxoplasmosis

This is one of the most severe food-related infections in pregnant women but you already know this because you were tested for it when they confirmed your pregnancy. Toxoplasmosis has a high mother to fetus transmission that often leads to miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects.

Toxoplasmosis is acquired accidentally swallowing the parasite or its eggs found in soil and other surfaces. Chances of infection are increased in areas with cats.

If you are diagnosed with toxoplasmosis during your pregnancy, you will be treated with antibiotics. But generally doctors preach about preventing the infection by doing the following:

  • Avoiding cats, cat feces and touching its litter box
  • Wash everything that comes into contact with cats, particularly the garden vegetables
  • Wash all foods and vegetables with running water in both the home and the garden.
  • Eat freshly cooked meat only, or previously frozen meat. No dried meat.
  • Drink treated or bottled water


How can you avoid food poisoning during pregnancy?

As you can see, getting food poisoning is very easy when you are pregnant but it’s something that can be easily prevented by following simple hygiene rules. To avoid food poisoning, pay attention when preparing your food and pay even more attention to your methods of storing food, particularly in summer when the temperatures are very warm which favors the proliferation of bacteria.

In addition, food poisoning during pregnancy can be avoided by:

  • Avoiding eating some types of food like undercooked meat, eggs and milk products such as soft cheese.
  • washing your hands before and after handling food
  • washing all fruit and vegetables before eating
  • thoroughly cooking meat
  • heating ready meals until they are piping hot especially poultry
  • keeping leftovers covered in the fridge


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