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Just got pregnant - terrified about toxoplasmosis

(27 Posts)
eccentrica Sun 28-Apr-13 10:51:12

Hi ladies

I've just found out that I'm pregnant - positive test yesterday. Very early days yet, I'm only 4 wks gone. very happy with the news, especially as it's the first month of ttc.

However, am having a bit of a bad time about toxoplasmosis. (I remember spending most of my first pregnancy terrified about one thing or another which I was sure I had inflicted on my unborn baby - had forgotten what it's like!)

The reason I'm so worried is we moved house 6 wks ago & we have a garden for the first time. I have spent most of the past month in the garden with my DD, have used gloves most of the time but there have been a few occasions where it's been too awkward & i have done it with bare hands. On one occasion it was really difficult to get all the dirt out from under my fingernails and I then ate/drank with hands that were not 100% clean blush

On some level I wasn't really expecting to get pregnant so I wasn't that careful about risks - absolutely furious with myself now for taking the risk especially when I knew it was a bad idea. Have been googling toxoplasmosis since last night and feel sick with worry.

Has anyone had a similar experience, any advice? Should I try to get blood-tested? How can I stop worrying myself sick and be happy about this (wanted and planned) pregnancy?

Thanks to anyone who can help x

eccentrica Sun 28-Apr-13 10:52:26

Forgot to say, there is at least one cat which regularly comes into the garden, so a good chance of cat poo being around (though I haven't seen any)

MaryannM Sun 28-Apr-13 11:06:01

This thread below has a lot of responses on it that may help as it sounds very similar to your post above. Take care.

Branleuse Sun 28-Apr-13 11:09:29

most people are immune to it. I think theres a blood test you can get

eccentrica Sun 28-Apr-13 11:11:37

Hi Maryann

Thanks very much for the link. I've read that thread - feel very sorry for that poster as she is obviously suffering from terrible anxiety, and catching toxoplasmosis via very unlikely/impossible routes - and there's some good advice about dealing with anxiety.

Unfortunately in my case I think the risk is a lot more real and my anxiety is a lot more grounded in actual risk of transmission - my own hands, not properly washed, after gardening in a garden which cats visit.

Familyguyfan Sun 28-Apr-13 11:20:49

I'm sorry to say, but I think you actually have even less to worry about than the OP in the other thread. When she first wrote, she too was convinced she had done unspeakable damage, same as you.

We all have our worries and concerns, but the sensible bit of our brains needs to be able to counteract these, most of the time. I honestly don't think you have anything to worry about. Lots of people have card in their homes, with bowel issues, and they are fine. Try to relax.

lljkk Sun 28-Apr-13 11:24:54

If your hygiene has been that bad then you probably got it weeks ago (assuming you didn't get it years ago) & there is no risk now.

lljkk Sun 28-Apr-13 11:26:03

ps: I don't think your hygiene has been bad at all, btw, but obviously you think it was.

catsdogsandbabies Sun 28-Apr-13 11:28:03

I commented on the previous thread being a vet and feline specialist.
Your risk is low because:
Few cats excrete toxoplasma cysts as the majority are immune themselves, the condition is of low prevalence.
As a meat eater you have probably already been exposed to toxo
Read the link I put on the other thread, the FSA consider food a bigger risk

Ask to be tested if it would reassure you
Best wishes

eccentrica Sun 28-Apr-13 12:07:56

Thanks very much for all the responses.

Familyguyfan I do know that it's important to keep the anxiety in perspective. I do think it's a real risk, and am very angry with myself for taking a known risk, but I want to keep the worry to a minimum and try to be happy for my family.

Last time I felt better after the 12-wk scan, and much better after the 20-wk scan, but that feels a very long time to wait from here!

I need to make a GP appt anyway to register the pregnancy so I will ask about a blood test while I'm there. As I understand it a new infection can take a few weeks to show up so it might be a question of having a couple of tests. Wish they did it routinely like they do in other countries!

ExpatAl Sun 28-Apr-13 12:15:10

OP, you don't even know if you're not immune so there is no sense in worrying until you know for sure so take the blood test.
I am not immune and am very careful. The number one risk is meat that isn't cooked properly. It's highly unlikely to have caught it from gardening.

MummyBurrows Sun 28-Apr-13 13:39:11

OP,I'm pregnant and have a house cat so before I found out I was pregnant I was regulary cleaning out poop (and wee soaked litter) from the litter tray and there's been no harm done and my risk would of been much higher than yours,in a garden,with no visiable evidence of poop! You said yourself you haven't seen any cat poop so I think you are worrying yourself too much over something that is highly unlikely. I'd mention your anxiety issues to your gp and ask to be referred for some kind of therapy (usually cbt) when you register the pregnancy to help you have a more worry and stress free pregnancy without obsessing over every little risk and becoming irrational,but I honestly think a blood test for toxo is a waste of time,just because cats visit the garden doesn't mean your going to catch anything,and its even less likely if you haven't even seen any physical evidence of poop let alone touched it (and gp may even tell you the same thing and refuse to test you as its that unlikely,I know my gp wouldn't do the test).

Plus,like the others said,you're probably immune to it anyway. Right now you're more likely to do harm to the pregnancy by worrying and stressing out than doing a bit of gardening and coming across a nice big fresh cat turd.

I suffer anxiety so know exactly how irrational and/or obsessed our trains of thought can get about things but its all about using the rational part of our brain and repeatedly weighing up the odds in our minds. I cleaned out cat poop regulary,I could have caught toxo...but my rational thought tells me,its highly unlikely,most people are already immune,I didn't physically touch poop,I always wash my hands afterwards with anti-bacterial soap. You need to tell yourself the same,over and over again. Cbt (cognotive behavioural therapy) will probably help you a lot. Oh and put a block on google and all other search engines. Everyone knows they only scare and worry people more if you start looking up illnesses or symptoms,especially those of us with anxiety issues!! Seriously,I've convinced myself I have stomach/bowel cancer on a number of occassions thanks to google (I did mange to convince a dr to send me for a scan,I'm prefectly fine)! Even genuinely thought I was going blind once too...most recently I had a full blown genuine fear verging on panic attack status (not good for an asthmatic I can tell you!) that my current pregnancy was eptopic as I was getting such bad stomach pains on one side,so much so that I spent 8hrs in a+e refusing to leave until they scanned me and worried my dh and family senseless in the process!! Turned out the pain was just my muscles stretching again and baby was perfectly fine,so were my ovaries,womb,bowel,appendix,kidneys,liver,the lot!

Anxiety can be awful mental health condition if not dealt with,it impacts not just the person with it but those around them. Please seek help. You're not crazy,just over-think and worry too much when 99% of the time there's no need xx

eccentrica Sun 28-Apr-13 18:24:50

Hi all

Sorry for delay, have been out for the day.

catsdogsandbabies Thank you for the link. I read it and am now more freaked out about the very undercooked lamb chop I ate a couple of weeks ago - still bloody in the middle sad

This seems like it could be a really serious risk (bearing in mind what ExpatAl says about undercooked meat) and I am now really beating myself up about this. It's not like I make a habit of eating bloody meat (I do from time to time but not often) and I just didn't associate the risk with pregnancy - I did think about food poisoning but thought it would be ok from that point of view. given that extra risk I am going to ask for the blood test and hope for the best.

Mummyburrows thanks for your comments. i understand what you're saying. I am not generally very prone to anxiety about myself/my own health, and am not especially neurotic about my daughter (who is 2 and a half). I think the anxiety is specific to pregnancy. I think there's something about the combination of the unknown, the having to 'wait and see', most of all the possibility of doing lifelong damage through my own stupid and avoidable actions. I couldn't cope with a child with severe disabilities (my fault for being crap but the idea fills me with terror) and especially not if I'd caused it myself.

I would just like to be feeling celebratory instead of full of fear.

ExpatAl Sun 28-Apr-13 18:37:39

Oh no, I knew I should have just said nothing! Early in pregnancy I ate an undercooked pork chop and worried for weeks until I had two clear blood tests so I won't tell you not to panic because it's a waste of time. However, pink lamb often is still the correct temperature, really and truly so my guess is it's still fine. I do understand about the unknowable and being responsible for a tiny life - but try not to let this rule you. Is there anyone you could talk to about your fears?

brettgirl2 Sun 28-Apr-13 18:45:18

I understand the pregnancy anxiety thing and doing something avoidable. I found it hard not being able to see in. However I don't think you've done anything that could have been avoided tbh. But googling rare pregnancy complications is avoidable. So stop it, it really does no good at all.

eccentrica Sun 28-Apr-13 18:51:28

I cooked the lamb chop myself and the juice was definitely running bloody rather than clear in the middle sad A tiny bit more patience would have saved all this heartache...

Good to hear that you were ok after the pork chop and that you were able to get the blood tests. I'm going to try to get emergency appt with the GP tomorrow.

I do talk to my partner but he gets frustrated, as I just go round in circles and can't be reassured. Last time, in the end it was only getting the all-clear at 20 weeks that helped. The blood tests would help too.

MummyBurrows Sun 28-Apr-13 19:00:58

Even if your anxiety is specific to pregnancy you can still get help to overcome it smile its really worth doing and that way you will be able to enjoy your pregnancy instead of constant "what if" moments and working yourself up into a state,its getting so stressed/worried that will do your baby harm and very little else (despite all the twaddle they put in various baby books about what you can/can't eat!).

Fwiw,I ate bloody (medium-rare) steak while pregnant first time around and again this time-no damage done either time. I also ate liver and pate and drank too much caffine at certain times in my first pregnancy and my dd was born perfectly normal,infact my midwife actually said she was the healthiest looking baby she's ever delivered (only 7lb so not healthy as in chunky)! Its true when then say "a little bit of what you fancy does you good" and it did,and did my dd good too! I never cut anything out of my diet when pregnant,its varied and healthy and that's what's important.

99% of the time if a baby is going to be born severly disabled it will be down to genetics or a mutated gene,not anything you eat,drink,touch,smell,ect and you can't control your babies genes.

I know its much easier said than done but,for the sake of your unborn baby,stop worrying,stay off google and stop thinking everything and anything you do or eat or touch or whatever will impact on the baby,it won't,but your stress will. Explain your pregnancy anxiety problem to your gp and I'm sure he/she will be more than happy to refer you into the best therapy to suit you and you will be soo glad you dealt with it instead of spending the next 8months sending yourself insane!

If its any help my anxiety didn't start until after I had my dd and any episodes I have are down to her in one way or another-fear of her getting sick,having an accident or dying to me getting sick or having an accident and leaving her without her mummy...although you say your anxiety is down purely to pregnancy there's no reason not to get help,we all worry,of course we do,but you're worrying to the extreme about something that is highly unlikely,and that isn't normal,and you got like this in your previous pregnancy over various things which means this won't be a one off this time around either.xx

eccentrica Sun 28-Apr-13 19:26:07

Mummyburrows thanks. it's good to know I am not the only one worrying too much.

Initially I had genuine reasons for being worried in previous pregnancy: it was unplanned and I took drugs/drank heavily very early on, before I realised I was pregnant. Even when those fears were dealt with, I worried about other stuff. As it turned out she was absolutely fine and beautiful smile

The problem with this is it is a real actual danger which I have caused, the risk is very low I know, but it's not zero and if the worst happened it would be my fault. It turns out that lamb is the most dangerous meat for toxoplasmosis, and this was seriously undercooked in the middle. I don't worry so much about things that are out of my control, but knowing I could have avoided this does my head in. Feel even more stupid because I was actively trying to get pregnant - what an idiot. sad

I want to be excited about becoming a family of four and not to suffer for the next few months (and as you say, not to inflict it on those around me!)

I will really try to see GP tomorrow and hopefully he will put my mind at rest a bit. He is very no-nonsense and doesn't have much patience for neurotic mums - this is a good thing in this case. I will ask his advice about therapy referral too but i do want to get the physical side (i.e. blood tests) sorted asap.

whosshe Sun 28-Apr-13 19:40:18

Hey, sorry to hear you are feeling anxious at a time that should be more celebratory. I think I am the opposite type of pregnant lady that worries too little (and plays down my symptoms of actual real issues!), but I can see how this can be a worrying time, especially at the start of the journey.

I think it's worth remembering that the majority of pregnancies are just fine, and this even includes ones where people have done things like eaten a rare steak or had a glass of wine on holiday.

Try not to worry too much, and do chat to a gp about your concerns, they are usually very logical about these things i have found.

Google on the other hand is very unhelpful.

Do you find yourself worrying excessively in life in general at all? I'm only asking as there are things that can help, and I say this as someone that used to suffer with anxiety but things are much better now.

I hope you can get some reassurance and enjoy the rest of your pregnancy.

eccentrica Sun 28-Apr-13 21:15:20

whosshe I'm the type of person who tends to think about things a lot and to analyse everything to death. I don't suffer from extreme anxiety about my own health or about social situations etc. Maybe a bit of a worrier but not off the scale.

I am rational enough to be reassured by facts. E.g. I was a bit worried about having eaten liver, but have looked that up and am satisfied that eating a bit of that won't have done any harm. Similarly, people's comments about gardening without gloves - I'm reassured about that.

The undercooked lamb though - nothing I have read today has set my mind at rest. It really looks like about the worst thing i could have done and the potential consequences are horrible.


MummyBurrows Sun 28-Apr-13 21:21:51

I unnerstand the inital worries in your first pregnancy,it would worry me too! Perhap the reason you worry so much when pregnant is because of how your first pregnancy started,there is always a trigger for people who suffer anxiety and I think this is yours! Yes,you didn't know you were pregnant but you can/could of avoided drinking and drugs,so now you want to control as much as you can during pregnancy by avoiding anything that can be avoided and potentially cause birth defects. In becoming so worried you become obsessed and really beat yourself up about things and become irrational without looking at the bigger picture.

We all know heavy drinking,drugs and smoking can potentially cause harm to an unborn baby and that is why pregnant women (for the most part anyway) avoid those things. But when it comes to food and toxo and other things,the real odds of anything like that actually doing any harm are slim to none,especially if its just a one off or not done often or on a regular basis (like eating pate and having the odd drink). I fully get that the lamb thing has freaked you out,but even then,the odds of it having caused any problems with the baby are very slim,as like mentioned before,you are probably immune anyway,but because it could of been avoided you're really beating your self up about it and worrying far too much. Remember that you did not know you were pregnant at the time,ttc yes but that doesn't mean you have to be anymore careful about what you eat anyway,I think the problem lies with the fact you didn't avoid it,just like you didn't avoid drink and drugs first time around and its triggered this anxiety in you again.

I think if you become so focused on controlling/avoiding certain things you will stay in a state of anxiety for the rest of the pregnancy,and that will ruin it for you. Seeking therapy for the issue will help you to overcome this and you must also remember that there is no need to change your diet in pregnancy,you should carry on as you normally would,eating foods you normally would,the only changes that really need to be made are perhaps eating a bit more fruit and veg and cutting down on liver and pate consumpsion and of course,avoiding cat poop,drugs and alcohol,although the odd drink here and there is fine,and quit smoking,but I doubt you're a smoker anyway!

I know I sound like I'm lecturing you,I'm not,I'm just saying what I see and what I've learnt in my own therapy sessions smile My anxiety isn't completely cured,but its far better than it was and I'm much more in control of it now as I know what my triggers are and have had,for the most part,my rational train of thought put back on the rails lol.

I really do hope you can get sorted asap,pregnancy really should be a joyus time,not one of fret and stress but with any luck some form of therapy will help make this happen for you smile Good Luck xx

eccentrica Mon 29-Apr-13 19:48:44

Thanks that is a really interesting analysis and lots to think about.

A quick update - I had a very stressed night, then saw GP this afternoon. She wasn't that helpful - not my usual doc, she was young & had no experience with this, she had to ring another doc to ask. They might not pay for tests on.the NHS sad I have to go back on Fri when she has 'done some research'!

She did say the risk was very low but also that she could see I was extremely anxious and she did want to help if she could. My blood pressure and pulse rate were both extremely high.

MummyBurrows Mon 29-Apr-13 20:04:14

Aww bless her! At least you went to see someone though,that will get the ball rolling smile The BP and pulse rate is worrying,my guess is its the stress and anxiety causing that,its obviously not a good thing when pregnant but its hard to keep control of when suffering anxiety so distraction is the best way to keep those down as it will keep your mind off things that send you into overdrive smile xx

eccentrica Mon 29-Apr-13 20:59:02

Yep - I went into an absolute spiral of self-hatred and anger last night, ended up rowing with my partner and lying awake half the night, so worked up I couldn't sleep.

Took my daughter swimming today which is always lovely and have two very long work days coming up so I'll have to try to keep it at the back of my mind.

I do know rationally the risk is low but it is real. But at least now I've set the ball rolling, as you say, and have another appointment with her coming up (when I'll go armed with the NHS guidelines) at the end of the week.

supergreenuk Mon 29-Apr-13 21:11:46

Oh lord you sound just like I was when pregnant. I would google and freak out google and freak out constantly. My heart goes out to you and I know nothing anyone says will make you feel any less worried.

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