Red faced and pregnant

The GP sighs. ‘We do advise pregnant women to stay away from people with slapped cheek disease,’ she says.

Well thanks, but what am I supposed to do when the infected person happens to be my five year old son? Pack him off to boarding school for a fortnight? Make him wear a mask?  Ban him from kissing me, or sharing my oxygen? We don’t all have helpful grandparents, or other means of childcare.

So thanks for the (slightly anachronistic) advice, but I’d rather not avoid contact with my own child – even if it were a possibility.

The blood tests confirm I too, have slapped cheek, or parvovirus, or fifth disease, or whatever you want to call it.   I didn’t even get the characteristic red face.  Just a horrible flu-like version of morning sickness , with swollen glands and joints, a rash on my arms and legs, and a zapping, aching tiredness, which of course sent my neurotic brain into orbit.  So slapped cheek is actually a reasonable outcome, compared to some of the other possibilities I’d feared.

The GP suggests I Google parvovirus in pregnancy for more information.  ‘Try not to look at the bad bits,’ she adds, which is kind of like saying just open that box of Lindor Chocolate Truffle Balls (the red ones) but don’t eat any.

The upshot is an increased risk of miscarriage, and a chance the baby could develop complications leading to heart failure.  It’s not the best start to pregnancy, but on the plus side I get to have scans every two weeks. The novelty soon wears off as the hospital parking fees mount up. But every time the sonographer utters the words:   ‘there’s the heartbeat,’ my own heart does a little dance.

So if you’re pregnant, or trying to conceive, try to avoid children who look like they’ve spent too much time in the sun with a paper doily stuck to their face. But if those children happen to be your own, there’s probably not much you can do about it.   The good news is lots of adults are already immune to slapped cheek (I wasn’t) but even if you do get it, plenty of pregnancies go smoothly.

At 16 weeks, I’m staying optimistic that mine will too, while bearing in mind no pregnancy is ever guaranteed.





About Becky Dickinson

Mum of three. Writer, blogger, grower. Trying to keep my head above the compost heap.

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  1. Really hope everything is OK with the baby Becky. Loving your positive attitude. All the best x

  2. Thank you (: x

  3. I hope that everything is okay, take care xx

  4. Aristos says:

    Hi Becky. Congrats on your latest pregnancy. Jessica just got her first dose of slap cheek last week. I thought it was a joke when I heard it. Must be a modern term, a bit like man flu. I don’t recall either term when before the 90’s. Enjoying the posts, keep em coming!

  5. Catherine says:

    My two sons both had red cheeks last week, being a nurse i was sure i would have come across slapped cheek before and be immune. How wrong was i. Blood tests show that i have parvovirus and i am 13 weeks pregnant. Really worried 🙁 how did your pregnancy go?

    • Ah you poor thing , I know how worrying it is. My pregnancy was fine, hopefully yours will be too as the vast majority are. I had fortnightly scans to keep an eye. Have you been offered the same? Had some potential issues when she was born but apparently not parvo related and she’s been given the all clear now. Good luck, let me know how it all goes and honestly try not to stress too much, though I know it’s easy for me to say that now x


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