Dealing with Viral Health Scares when Pregnant

News of the Zika virus has been spreading over social media like wildfire. Every time I read another article outlining where the virus came from and the potential havoc it leaves in its wake, I thank goodness that I’m not pregnant right now. Knowing me, if I were pregnant I would be worried sick reading article after article and would convince myself that I somehow had come in contact with the virus.

When I was pregnant the story du jour was Listeria. There was a list of contaminated products on every webpage I could find along with an outline of the risks and dangers it posed specifically to pregnant women.

My mind spun like a top and I was suddenly terrified that I had consumed one of these products and that somehow my baby was harmed.

My heart dropped when I inspected my fridge only to discover that we had ham that was on the recall list in our meat drawer. I knew that I hadn’t consumed the product because I didn’t eat pork, but I had made my husband a sandwich with the meat.

I sat on the floor in front of the fridge and I sobbed.

What did this mean? What was going to happen?

I spent the entire night on the internet googling trying to find something that said I had no reason to be worried but instead found myself focusing on the posts that listed the terrible worst case scenario outcomes that I was convinced were my fate.

Don’t ever Google health questions when pregnant.

My husband, my family and my friends tried to convince me that all was probably ok since I hadn’t consumed anything. I booked an appointment with my doctor anyway knowing that I wouldn’t rest until I had someone with a medical background giving me the same speech.

Was my reaction over the top? Maybe. But I was pregnant for the first time and everything worried me. I had also been living for months with the sinking feeling that something was wrong with my baby. This to me was confirmation. This was what that worry was all about; I came in contact with Listeria and my baby was going to suffer because of it.

Days later my doctor reassured me that I had nothing to worry about and we carried on.

When my son was diagnosed with TEF the day after his birth, one of the first questions I asked was if it had anything to do with Listeria.

I hadn’t forgotten.

I was reassured that his condition occurred within the first few weeks of pregnancy, probably before I was even aware that he was in there.

When these big news stories about a virus or a bacteria hit the news and spread across all our social media feeds and it’s great in terms of getting word out, making us all aware and allowing us to take precautions. But there can also be a danger in causing fear and panic.

Take my advice, don’t google it. Don’t diagnose yourself.

Leave the diagnosing to your doctor. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

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