Zika virus causes Zika fever which poses serious risks to pregnancy including microencephaly, Guillain-Barre syndrome, vision and hearing loss, and joint deformity in 5 to 14 percent of infected people.
Zika virus and pregnancy have become a hot topic in the recent past. And like you, many pregnant ladies are in serious uncertainties regarding Zika virus, e.g., should you breastfeed with a cold, how do you manage pregnancy if you are infected, etc. That’s why we are here to answer these uncertainties in the simplest way that you can understand.
What is Zika virus?
Zika virus is a bug that causes Zika fever and its occurrence is highest among the pregnant ladies. Although the virus causes mild symptoms in the mother, it is highly dangerous as it causes serious birth defects including; microencephaly and Guillain-Barre syndrome, and also increases the chances of miscarriage.
Symptoms of Zika virus in pregnancy
80 percent of the mothers don’t show any symptoms of Zika fever and others show very general symptoms which makes it extremely difficult to diagnose. Some of the symptoms include:
- Joint and muscle pain
- Pink eye
- Flu-like symptoms.
How does the Zika virus spread?
There are many ways from which you can get Zika virus but the most common way is from the bite of Aedes mosquito. The mosquito is also called as day biter to remind you that it bites at the day time.
The second most common way of transmission of Zika virus is through sexual contact. A person may not have any symptoms at the time of contact or he is already being treated but he can still transmit the disease. Which makes protection and safety even more important for you as the mother.
Other routes of spread include; blood transfusion, contact with infected blood or semen, and birth canal. However, if you are worried that some infected person has coughed or sneezed onto you and you might get the virus. Don’t worry there is evidence of respiratory-spread. However, it’s better to stay away from such people.
Tips to prevent Zika virus during pregnancy
For the mothers worried about this new terror of science we have some tips to gear you against this virus.
Pregnancy brings a strange craze for traveling and you might have earned that too. But make sure not to go to a Zika virus-affected country. And if you are trying to be pregnant then make sure that you or your partner haven’t recently visited such a place.
And if you have been to such a place, avoid getting pregnant for at least 6 weeks.
The main way of transmission for Zika virus during pregnancy is through a mosquito bite. To separate the Zika virus and pregnancy, it is important to avoid mosquitoes during pregnancy and you should focus more on day time.
Protection while having sex
Use safety options to avoid the sexual transmission of the virus and make sure that your partner or you are not showing any symptoms of the Zika virus. If there are symptoms you should get tested.
When to test for Zika virus?
If you have been living in a safe area where there are no reported cases of Zika virus and pregnancy is going smoothly, there is no need for you to get yourself tested. However, here are some scenarios you want to get yourself tested in:
- Recently traveled to a hot place for Zika virus and got pregnant within 2 months.
- Sexual contact with a person suffering from the Zika virus or came from an infected area.
- Showing symptoms for Zika fever during pregnancy.
Zika virus and pregnancy risks
Zika virus poses mild to moderate discomfort to the mother but has serious risks regarding pregnancy. That’s what made Zika virus and pregnancy a hot topic. Here are a few pregnancy risks due to Zika virus.
Zika virus and pregnancy miscarriage
Zika virus and pregnancy miscarriage especially in the first trimester is quite terrifying for the mothers. Studies have shown an increased rate of miscarriage only in the first trimester. So if you have already passed the first trimester, miscarriage doesn’t concern you.
The first trimester of the pregnancy is known as the development phase of the fetus as most of the organs develop in this period. Later on the only mature and grow in size known as the growth of the baby. This makes the first trimester an extremely important period as the fetus requires maximum protection from the mother during this period.
Unfortunately, Zika virus affects during this period and produces serious birth defects. These birth defects include:
- Microencephaly (small skull with an underdeveloped brain)
- Vision loss
- Hearing disability
- Limb deformity
The incidence of these birth defects in the mothers carrying the Zika virus during the first trimester is between 5 to 14 percent. However, moving down the trimesters in the pregnancy decreases the risks of serious illness to the baby.
How to treat the Zika virus during pregnancy?
Zika virus and pregnancy is always a terrifying topic. However, most of the time people don’t have any symptoms and other times there are only a few mild symptoms requiring no specific treatment. Only things to do are:
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Take maximum bed rest.
- Tablets for pain and fever relief.
However, if things become serious or you are in the early stage of your pregnancy, you should consult your doctor for your fetus.
How long to wait after Zika fever to get pregnant?
If you have been infected with Zika virus, you should ideally wait for 2 months after being treated to get pregnant. The same is the case if you or your partner have traveled to an infected area in the recent past.
Can you breastfeed if you have Zika virus?
Zika virus has been isolated from the breast milk of the affected mothers but there is no evidence of its transmission to the baby. Although it is advisable to be safe and avoid breastfeeding, most of the researchers have a different opinion. They found the advantages of breastfeeding far greater than the risk of Zika virus transmission. However, we advise you to be sure and consult your doctor before breastfeeding.