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Fever During Pregnancy: A Comprehensive Guide

Fever during pregnancy

Fever During Pregnancy: A Comprehensive Guide

Fever during pregnancy is common, often caused by infections or dehydration. While concerning, most brief, mild fevers under 102°F are harmless to mom and baby. However, high or prolonged fevers can raise risks like birth defects, preterm birth, and dehydration. Home treatment involves rest, fluids, light dressing, and sometimes acetaminophen. Call your doctor for fevers over 101°F, lasting over 24 hours, or with worrying symptoms like a stiff neck or uterine cramping. Controlling fevers reduces complications. With prompt attention and smart management, most pregnant women and babies recover well, even after significant fevers. Monitoring temperature and staying hydrated are key.


Fevers during pregnancy are fairly common, especially during the first trimester, and usually, they’re nothing to worry about. That said, they can cause anxiety and discomfort, and it’s always best to keep fevers in check during pregnancy. In this blog, we’ll explore what a fever means, its potential causes, how it may affect your pregnancy, treatment options, and when to call your doctor.

What is considered a fever during pregnancy?

A fever during pregnancy is typically classified as a temperature of 100.4°F or higher. While a slight “low-grade fever” up to around 100.4°F is considered normal, some providers define a true fever during pregnancy as a sustained temperature at or above 100.9°F.

A persistently elevated temperature can mean your body is trying to fight an infection. In pregnancy, it can additionally point to issues like dehydration, heat stress, or underlying conditions. Still, the occasional mild increase in body temperature is usually nothing serious.

Defining the precise “normal” temperature range is tricky too, since body temperature fluctuates throughout a normal pregnancy. Your baseline temperature may increase in the first trimester, and your average body temperature can be up to a full degree Fahrenheit higher by your third trimester. The main point is that spikes or sustained elevations above your normal are cause for concern and warrant a call to your provider.

Common Causes of Fevers During Pregnancy

Body temperature spikes during pregnancy are often caused by minor viral illnesses like colds or the flu, especially early on. Some common reasons you might run a fever when expecting include:

  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are common in pregnancy due to hormonal changes, bacteria, and a growing uterus pressing on the bladder.
  • Respiratory infections: colds, sinus issues, bronchitis, flu, pneumonia, allergies, etc. Your immune system is lowered during pregnancy, making you more susceptible to such illnesses.
  • Dehydration or overheating are very common causes of mild fevers while pregnant. Stay hydrated and avoid getting too hot.
  • Underlying conditions: Certain preexisting medical conditions could spike a fever while pregnant, like skin, blood, or autoimmune disorders. Let your provider know of any persistent fevers.

In most cases, pregnancy fevers aren’t due to anything overly serious. Still, it’s smart to monitor your temperature closely and touch base with your doctor if a fever lasts more than 24 hours, gets worse, or worries you. Call right away for fevers over 102°F.

How Fevers Can Affect Pregnancy

For the most part, brief low-grade fevers in an otherwise healthy pregnancy aren’t harmful. They simply indicate your body is mounting an immune response, just like when you are not pregnant. The main pregnancy-related fever risks include:

  • Possible impact on fetal development. Very high, prolonged maternal fevers early in pregnancy may very slightly raise the risk of certain birth defects or miscarriage. However, this typically requires temperatures exceeding 102°F for an extended period, which is rare. Brief or mild fevers pose little to no added risk.
  • Dehydration. Fevers need sap fluids, and pregnant women need extra hydration. Drink plenty of water if you have a fever to avoid dehydration.
  • Preterm labor. High fevers late in pregnancy might trigger preterm contractions by stimulating prostaglandin release. Thankfully, this is uncommon, but controlling a fever is ideal.
  • Medication risks. Certain fever or pain medications, like ibuprofen, aren’t considered safe during pregnancy (acetaminophen is okay). Always check with your provider before taking any new medications while expecting.

Overall, research indicates brief low-grade fevers generally don’t harm a developing baby. However, controlling fevers can help you feel better and lower pregnancy complications.

Fever during pregnancy

Treating a Fever During Pregnancy

If you suspect a fever, use a thermometer to check your actual temperature rather than just guessing. Here are some tips for bringing down a mild fever:

  • Rest: Your body needs extra rest to fight whatever is causing the fever. Scale back on activities and sleep more.
  • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can worsen fevers. Drink extra fluids like water or diluted juices. An electrolyte drink can replenish lost salts too.
  • Use a cool cloth. Place a cool, damp cloth on your forehead or neck to help conduct heat away from your body. Avoid cold baths or showers, which can spike a chill.
  • Dress lightly. Don’t bundle up too much, as trapping heat can worsen a fever. Light, breathable clothes help.
  • Consider acetaminophen. If rest and cooling methods don’t bring your temperature down, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is considered safe during pregnancy and helps reduce fevers. Always follow dosing guidelines.

Home remedies often treat pregnancy fevers effectively if they’re mild. But let your provider know about any fevers over 101°F, lasting over 24 hours, or accompanied by other potentially concerning symptoms.


The best way to prevent fevers during pregnancy is to lower the infection risk. Wash hands frequently, avoid sick contacts, and get appropriate vaccines like the flu shot and TDAP. Eat nutritious foods to support immunity, take prenatal vitamins, and get plenty of rest. Staying hydrated is also key to preventing fever-causing dehydration, so drink lots of water and fluids daily. Additionally, exercise caution with overheating activities like hot baths, limit sun exposure, and dress lightly during warm weather. Seek prompt treatment for any infections, like UTIs, as well. Following healthy pregnancy habits makes having a fever less likely. However, if one does strike, be sure to call your doctor with any concerns.

When to Call the Doctor About a Fever

As a general guideline, reach out to your healthcare provider any time you run a fever over 101°F or for over 24 hours while pregnant. Also, let them know if you have:

  • A fever with a rash, stiff neck, confusion, severe headache, muscle aches, or other worrying symptoms that suggest a possible underlying infection
  • A fever, along with burning or abdominal pain, foul-smelling urine, etc., indicates a potential kidney or UTI issue.
  • Any fever in the second or third trimester, especially if also having uterine cramping or contractions
  • Inability to keep fluids down due to fever-related nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea (to avoid dehydration)
  • General uncertainty about how to safely manage a fever during pregnancy

In many cases, providers will have you come in, check your temperature, run some tests, and monitor you and your baby closely when you have a fever, especially a high one. Getting fevers checked out promptly can help minimize risks.

Additional common questions (FAQs)

  1. Is fever harmful during pregnancy?

    Having a fever during pregnancy—especially during your 1st trimester—may cause problems for your baby. People who had a fever just before or during early pregnancy were more than twice as likely to have a baby with a neural tube defect (NTD) than those who didn’t have a fever.

  2. How can I reduce my fever at home during pregnancy?

    Other ways to treat a fever while pregnant

    Take a lukewarm tub bath or sponge bath. Avoid using cold water, since it can cause you to shiver, leading to a spike in temperature. Lukewarm water will work fine – your fever will fall as the water evaporates off your skin.

  3. Can high fever cause miscarriage?

    Having a fever during pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester, can cause problems for a developing baby. 1 However, researchers do not yet know whether having a fever during early pregnancy may cause a miscarriage. It is usually prolonged, high fevers that are thought to cause problems.

  4. Is Dolo 650 safe during pregnancy?

    Is Dolo 650 safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding? Yes, Dolo 650 is safe and can be taken sometimes during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. However, do not take medicine regularly. If you feel the need, consult a doctor first.

  5. Can I take paracetamol in pregnancy?

    Paracetamol and pregnancy

    Paracetamol is the first choice of painkiller if you’re pregnant. It is commonly taken during pregnancy and does not harm your baby.


To sum up, the occasional low fever is very common during pregnancy thanks to shifting immune function and hormones. Brief spikes under 102°F generally won’t impact you or your baby. But extended high fevers, failing home treatment, or worrying symptoms should prompt a call to your doctor right away. Controlling fevers is ideal, so be proactive with rest, hydration, and safe fever reducers like acetaminophen if needed. With smart fever management, you can keep risks low and help both you and your baby stay comfortable.

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