Oh…it has been a hard week. I rarely get sick beyond the mild yearly cold come winter. And I can only think of twice in my life when I’ve had what most people call the stomach flu.
But now I can add a tally to the list–all while being 13 weeks pregnant. Has anyone every had the stomach flu while pregnant?
Stomach Flu While Pregnant
It is WORSE than having it without being pregnant! I woke up around 3am the other morning with terrible diarrhea, and then this permeating feeling of nausea and just an icky, poisonous feeling right in the middle of my body, extending from my heart to my belly.
Then around the clock for the rest of the day, every 3 hours or so guaranteed, I would rush to the bathroom to make a horrible mess to get it all out of me. I literally lived next to the toilet or in my bed ALL DAY.
I tried eating a little or keeping things down like juice, soy milk, a little toast, applesauce, even ice cream (give me some credit, my Neapolitan mix sounded good). But it was in vain.
When you have a normal case of gastroenteritis (stomach flu), there’s the regular crappy feeling all over, right? But then it seems that after you visit the bathroom throne, there’s relief and the suffering leaves for awhile until the next round of toilet time.
But when pregnant, I did NOT get this relief. Sure there’s the moment of a cool flush that overcomes your body after you’ve just puked, but it quickly fades.
Then it seemed as if nothing had changed.
I tried napping but couldn’t sleep. My hands and feet starting getting tingly many times because I had an irregular breathing pattern, decreasing my CO2 levels too quickly. So I had to cup my hands over my mouth with my hands so that I could inhale lost CO2 to try and regain the balance. (Try this any time you have tingly hands or feet, along with slow consistent breaths. It REALLY helps. I have lots more on breathing here.)
And I’m sad to say, I couldn’t even think enough to work on some great new posts I’ve had coming down the line for you this past week. I could only lay there and watch movies on my iPAD or read for hours on end. (I enjoyed watching The Village, Honey I Shrunk The Kids, and read three-fourths of the great new novel Unbroken, which I highly recommend BTW for anyone who thinks they’ve had trying times 🙂 )
What Causes It
There are a number of viruses and even a few bacteria that infect the intestinal tract, very similar to food poisoning. These HAVE to be eaten. They’re not inhaled like most other viruses that make us sick (like the common cold).
Knowing this made me really nervous because I had just been to Costco the previous day, taking in a bunch of free samples and even sharing them with my little 1-year-old. So I was worried he would get sick too. But miraculously he’s just fine. But then again, his immune system is stronger than mine right now.
Pregnant women like you and me are more susceptible to such bugs because our immune system is naturally suppressed right now so our bodies don’t start attacking our babies. Thus why we just seem to have the worst colds EVER during pregnancy or, unfortunately, catch the flu or other stomach illnesses.
These nasty moments lead to symptoms including:
- vomiting (learn how this can affect your baby here)
- hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
I found this quick video from The Doctors television show that talks about it a little bit.
In the end, it doesn’t seem to matter the source of how you got sick, just dealing with getting through it and recovering.
What To Do About It
What’s done is done and it’s really time that just has to pass. I HATE it when that is really the only option.
But the problematic part comes if you get dehydrated so bad that it can become harmful. Sipping fluids continuously with rest is the BEST thing to do at a time like this. But what if you can’t even keep that down?
There are times when going into the hospital and getting an IV can be very advantageous and even necessary.
I was thinking about this and wanted to know if and when I should go in for this. By dinner time I wasn’t really improving and I didn’t want to become so dehydrated or hypoglycemic that it might hurt my baby.
I spoke with the doctor on call and he said that I could certainly go in and get some help in order to feel somewhat better so that I could recover faster, but that it wasn’t necessary since it had only been a day….
ONLY been a day! It was the LONGEST day. I have a job to get back to. I have children to take care of. I have a husband to see to. I have a baby inside that needs me to be as strong as possible.
So I decided I wanted to go in and get an IV to boost my hydration and make sure that everything would still be alright.
Why continue suffering if I could get some help?
So we got a neighbor and my sister to stay with our kids after they’d been put to bed early and we went to the hospital.
Can I just say too–I hate being in a room with strangers (let alone people you know) and having to discuss your symptoms where everyone can hear? I hate that.
Luckily, we got whisked right back to a room where everyone was friendly and helpful. I got a full bag of sodium chloride in me, made me pee three times while we were there for four hours (a good thing). All my labs came back good, so I wasn’t lacking nutrient wise, even my blood sugar was fine.
So that told me that even the little things I was able to drink, some of it was getting through and keeping my blood sugar fine–no worries.
About halfway through my stay there, I quickly spiked a small fever, allowing my body to easier and more fully combat what was left of this virus because I was re-hydrated now. Good news! And I DON’T think it would have happened as quickly if I had decided to stay home.
The PA attending me also felt there was no harm to my baby at this time. Because this wasn’t a case of really bad morning sickness, we knew that I’d recover within the next day or so.
The nice thing (if ANYTHING about the stomach flu is ever nice) about having this kind of infection is that our bodies are able to keep it isolated and quickly get rid of it. The virus stays in our digestive track and is unable to travel through our blood stream. Our bodies are also great at expelling it through both ends, even though it’s a horrible experience for us.
If you think about it, out of any type of illness, these are the shortest kind. So each time you visit that disgusting potty seat, you’re actually THAT much closer to saying goodbye to all of the bugs inside you.
The only prevention you can take are the ordinary things: washing your hands and making sure your food is thoroughly cooked. I’ve got more on that here.
But hopefully you never have this experience like I just did. Two days ahead of it now, my energy has not returned to normal–which I don’t like because I haven’t been able to exercise for my baby this week–but at least I can eat some now.
I’ve been carefully and slowly eating/drinking:
- cream of wheat
- chicken broth
So if this befalls you, start slowly and easily. You may feel like you could drink a ton of water to quench your thirst, but don’t do it. Don’t overwhelm your stomach too soon. It’s gone through a shock too. Stay away from anything greasy, spicy, rich, or more complicated to digest.
The sun is peaking through the clouds though: I had a craving come back this morning and I ventured to have some potato chips with no problem. I’ll soon be back on top!