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Lambs and pregnancy: today I went to a petting farm and a lady told me I was risking stillbirth...

(20 Posts)
Artichook Thu 04-Apr-13 19:28:36

... and now I am really panicking.

I am 34 weeks pregnant. I did not touch any sheep or lambs but my daughters stroked them and fed them and I held my daughters' hands inbetween them petting the animals. I washed my hands carefully on leaving, as did my girls, but after a few minutes on Dr Google I am really worried.

Does anyone know how big the risk is in the 3rd trimester and whether it is worth asking the GP for antibiotics incase of infection?

And is the infection risk any greater than from eating pink meat (which I have also done this pregnancy)?

lljkk Thu 04-Apr-13 19:33:34

Try not to panic. The panic poses a higher risk than anything you did.

If the lambs are that toxic then no woman of child-bearing age should be allowed to visit, no?!

lljkk Thu 04-Apr-13 19:37:22

it's newborn lambs & placental products you would need to be careful of, not lambs that are old enough for random visitors to stroke (source).

NHS advice, again all about lambs at the point of birth, not all live sheep in general.

What numpty person tried to tell you different?

Artichook Thu 04-Apr-13 19:38:38

That is what I keep telling myself llj, there weren't even posters up. It was only as we left that this woman looked at my bump then looked at me and exclaimed "Dear God, you should not be here in lambing season, lambs cause still births" (or something very similar to that). I stared at her mouth agape while my six year old asked what still birth meant and then I got on Dr Google which was nearly as unwise as listening to the lady in the first place.

Rockchick1984 Thu 04-Apr-13 19:39:26

The risk is of toxoplasmosis - it's serious if you aren't already immune however the majority of people in the UK are already immune to it (if you catch it while not pregnant it's like a mild cold).

Personally I'd be calling your midwife and getting a blood test ASAP to put your mind at ease - didn't the petting zoo have warning signs up for pregnant women to stay away?

Artichook Thu 04-Apr-13 19:39:51

Sorry, x-post with your second post which is really helpful, thank you. I will check those links out now. The youngest lambs were 2 weeks old so maybe I can relax.

Rockchick1984 Thu 04-Apr-13 19:40:44

X-posts - I presumed you meant newborn lambs - still get the bloods done if you are concerned but I think it's incredibly low risk!

Artichook Thu 04-Apr-13 19:46:32

I might ask for a blood test Rockchick, thanks. Although it seems it would take about 4-6 weeks for the infection to get through the placenta and I am due induction in 4 weeks so maybe all will be OK.

Seriously, if pregnant women shouldn't be in petting zoos then that needs to be made much more widely known. How many mothers take older children to these places while pregnant without ever knowing the risks?

Rockchick1984 Thu 04-Apr-13 19:48:47

They are supposed to have signs up warning you to stay away - I went to a little country park at the weekend which had huge signs at any area where there was a risk of infection.

Artichook Thu 04-Apr-13 19:51:09

What kind of areas did they have the signs in? Maybe this particular place did not have signs as they had no pregnant sheep in the public area. The lambs were all orphan lambs from local farms so the births had not taken place on site (or at least that seemed to be the case for the lambs we asked about).

Wincher Thu 04-Apr-13 19:52:55

I was around newborn lambs on a family farm last weekend (at 16 weeks) and I was just extra careful with hand hygiene. Apparently it's the afterbirth you really mustnt handle.

CheshireDing Thu 04-Apr-13 20:00:55

Gosh I have never heard of this and now 6 weeks pregnant with No2. We were going to take pfb to feed the lambs in a couple of months because she has a voucher so I will ask the GP.

I just asked DH (a Nurse/teaches Nurses) and he said pregnant women are not allowed to handle the sheep/lamb larynx they use for some part of the course but I think that is as somebody else said it's the blood aspect. That's how the link which lljkk posted seems to say too - more if you are a farmers Wife (it mentions goats too) and doing the lambing.

Sheep are dirty maggoty buggers though too grin

lucybrad Thu 04-Apr-13 20:42:47

I went to one last week and one this week. I made sure the kids didnt touch the lambs, and was careful about handwashing. There were signs up at the first farm about not touching sheep and lambs for pregnant women, nothing at the second farm.

I am neurotic about these things but figured I would be ok with careful handwashing?!

NinthWave Thu 04-Apr-13 20:59:45

You should be fine. My friend runs a farm and I visited her when I was 13 weeks pregnant, around lambing time, and she just advised me not to touch any of the sheep. The risk is very very small, and mainly from contact with placentas/very newborn lambs.

smile4me Thu 04-Apr-13 21:13:38

The risk from toxoplasmosis is mainly first half of pregnancy, and you won't get it by petting lambs unless they are just born (even then they are not as high risk as undercooked meat or 4 day old kitten poo).

The main risks around farm animals at petting zoos are bacteria that cause gastroenteritis, so E coli campylobacter, and also cryptosporidiosis, mainly because you are more likely to become infected because your immune system is not as good as normal. Easily prevented with good hygiene, be really vigilant around hand washing and also washing your shoes when you leave. And don't forget things like handling your cell phone before you wash your hands...

Longfufu Thu 04-Apr-13 21:27:28

Please DO NOT worry, you will be fine. I went lambing, not realising I shouldn't, so booked emergency appointment with GP.

GP said the risk was minimal, I wasn't sent for any blood tests, this was a couple of weeks ago and baby is kicking like a goodun.

If you handled afterbirth/newborn lambs with cut on your hands it may be a different story.

You're both fine x

AP79 Thu 04-Apr-13 21:51:44

I am currently 13 +5 and my parents have a sheep farm and are currently in the middle of lambing. The additional risk not mentioned above is of a bug called enzotic abortion, this causes sheep to miscarry their lambs and has had the same effect in pregnant women.

The main risk is from the sheep just after they have given birth and them from their placenta. However there is still a risk from the lambs, I am not allowed anywhere near the sheep or the orphan lambs my mum is feeding or even the jackets by brothers have been wearing around the farm.

I personally would not risk going anywhere near orphan lambs etc when pregnant however diligent you are with hand washing. For me personally I don't feel that feeding an orphan lamb is worth losing my baby for..

katesav87 Thu 04-Apr-13 22:23:24

I'm so glad uve posted this. I went to a farm on Friday not knowing u can't feed the sheep and goats. I fed both once and then walked around the corner and saw a small sign saying pregnant women shouldn't feed them I've been panicked ever since even tho I went straight and washed my hands god nos how many times. I went to see the gp who advised the risks are extremely minimal and the research I've done suggests the risks are with newborn lambs and the after births so I think we should be ok. Baby's been moving lots since so I'm hoping everything's ok. It angers me there is not better signage up tho!!

midori1999 Thu 04-Apr-13 22:44:58

AP79, the OP has said she was not previously aware of any risks and is now worried, I'm not sure how your last paragraph is helpful, but good for you... hmm

OP, I was aware of the risk and we attended a petting farm last weekend. There were signs saying that pregnant women should not handle or touch sheep or lambs and to avoid touching fences/gates, as well as washing your hands more frequently than usual as a precaution.

I'm fairly certain I've been to petting farms in every one of my pregnancies and spent one of them looking after my horses daily on a farm with lambing ewes. Of course, I avoided touching sheep, but all was fine.

Please try not to worry, the woman who spoke to you at the farm was a twat, who in their right mind would say that to someone leaving a petting farm... confused

Daisybell1 Fri 05-Apr-13 02:39:41

Please try not to worry OP. As the others have said, the risk is from wet lambs and birthing products which may contain abortivants. However, the issue is with young lambs.

We are farmers and are in the middle of lambing, so there is a risk to me that is unavoidable but we minimise it. I don't go into the sheds but that's because all the lambs we have inside are young, and dp does all his own washing.

Every open farm I've been to where there is any risk has posters up, they need this for their public liability insurance and I'm sure they'd put up notices if there was a risk.

You washed your hands well so I'm sure all is fine. I' m just sorry you had someone lecturing in such an upsetting manner. It may be worth a quick chat with your gp or mw to set your mind at ease.

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