Pregnant and battling bed bugs(10 posts)
Hi everyone! I've been lurking for about 2 months, right after I found a bed bug in my Manhattan apartment. I had hoped/prayed/dreamed that it was a hitchhiker that I'd caught early (I had a bite, I found a bug, I squished it), but sadly it was not the case. A week later, I had a few bites on my hand, then another week and another few bites. We were going to have the canine inspection to confirm the bugs, when I actually found a tiny one under my husband's pillow. Which leads us to today. As I am now 35 weeks pregnant, I find the idea of being exposed to a bunch of chemicals not such a great idea.
I just had a reputable PCO come in yesterday and steam our bedroom (the only place where bites or bed bug evidence was found), and he put DE in all the apartment's outlets. He didn't see anything that signified a large infestation, which surprised him considering that we'd found 2 adults wandering about and a number of juveniles on our sheets and in a monitor. This morning I was feeling relaxed and groovy, then when I got home, my husband showed me new bites on his arm, so now I am despondent (and awake way later than I should be).
We think the bugs are fleeing from our downstairs neighbor, who we think either was chemically treated or cracked open a fogger right around the same time the first bug showed up. We've no real evidence, only that strong chemical smells were permeating our apartment when all this started.
I'm trying to be cool and think of this as the motivator to declutter our apartment, which we should be doing anyway pre-baby, but I'm finding it harder and harder to find my "happy place." To make matters worse, my dear husband has been acting as a human sacrifice and sleeping in the bedroom so that I can sleep unmolested on the couch. His reactions are just little red spots whereas I welt and blister. Fun!
I would appreciate any specific advice on products and treatments that I should speak to my PCO about. I will be consulting my OB about any chemicals that are proposed, but at this point I'd like to know what people think are real viable pregnancy and newborn safe-ish options, beyond steam and DE.
Thanks in advance!
I'm not qualified to give you any advice about the safety of various chemicals with respect to your pregnancy but I do have two thoughts which I'll share:
(1) One of the bed bug PCOs who posts here regularly treats exclusively with steam. Unfortunately for you, he's in Italy. Still, it's probably worth mentioning because apparently he has great success so it must be a viable alternative.
(2) Often people report delayed (by up to two days) reactions to bites so if you were just treated yesterday, the marks your husband noticed on his arm today, don't neccasarily indicate that the treatment failed.
Make sure you read our FAQ on canines before hiring a dog team.
Steam and DE can work but the steam will likely require multiple treatments as steam is basically a brilliant contact killer. You need a gung ho firm who is willing to do what's needed. Lots of PCOs know how to treat families with pregnant women, babies, etc. safely, so just talk to them.
Unfortunately, your husband staying in bed and being bitten will not necessarily mean they don't come after you on the sofa.
Professionally heating the entire home (known as heat or thermal treatment) is supposed to eliminate all bed bugs at once, if done properly by an experienced pro with the right equipment and know-how. It's pricey, though, and won't keep them coming from neighbors.
Are you renting? If so, is your landlord coordinating treatment and inspection of all attached units? If you're a homeowner, is the coop/condo board involved?
The problem of adjacent units is so serious that NYC just changed the laws about how landlords need to respond to an infested unit (they have to inspect attached units on all sides, above and below, and treat them if needed).
RS: I wish I was in Italy right now! But I digress. I have a delayed reaction to the bites, but my husband has seemed to get the bites almost immediately...unless he's delayed a full 24 hours. Blarg.
NB: I did read through the Canine FAQ when we were first considering it. I'm a little worried about the PCO because, while they are well regarded, the initial fee only covers two treatments, so I'm not sure how gung-ho they are or how gung-ho we can afford them to be. We're renters, and while I think my landlord is great, as of yet, my questions about the building bed bug management plan have gone unanswered.
And I am aware that our stop gap measure of separate sleeping won't keep them from coming for me, but so far, so good. I'm hoping it holds out until we're bed bug free. <sigh>
A few bites once a week suggests an initial infestation... A single bug can leave multiple bite marks.
Your description of the bite evidence could describe the bite activity of only one or two bugs that are feeding weekly... Steam could knock out the problem, if this is an initial infestation.
The important question here is the source of the bugs
If you are correct about bugs migrating from a reservoir located in an adjacent unit... It means that the solution will require the cooperation of your landlord and your neighbors.
Your landlord can hire a reliable K9 team to screen the surrounding units in addition to your apartment for close to the same amount that you will pay to have a single unit inspected... (Travel time is a major factor)
I can help you select a reliable K9 team, if you wish to contact me via a PM with the names of any teams that you are considering for the inspection... Look for an experienced K9 team that has a policy of confirming their identified locations with a thorough visual inspection.
Killer Queen is another option (John Furman - Boot A Pest)... He is a bed bug specialist that you can trust to provide reliable inspections and advice on low toxicity approaches that are appropriate during pregnancy.
As NoBugs pointed out earlier... NYC has implemented new rules that require landlords to check adjacent units... The rules were recently implemented... don't be too surprised if your building is not in compliance yet... Provide them with a link to the landlord section of the NYC website.
Communicate in writing and do your best to cultivate a spirit of cooperation... Teamwork is a key factor for success... You will succeed or fail as a community on this issue.
Controlling stress is going to be important for your health... Consider relaxation or guided imagery recordings that focus on releasing stress... They can be an effective tool... Combine them with other traditional stress management tactics like music, exercise, yoga or other activities.... Bed bugs can be a major source of stress... Take some time every day to do something for yourself that reduces your level of stress.
Talk with your prenatal care provider about pesticide treatment and health concerns.
Look into monitoring devices like the BB Alert Passive or the Bed Bug Beacon to provide on going surveillance.
Doug: Thank you for all the advice. I'm trying to keep calm, but with the baby so near, it's really hard. People freak out under normal circumstances, so it's taking a special effort for me to find my zen place.
My landlord is just barely figuring out the new rules, and I am gently trying to help them a long, but I get the feeling that they would find it easier to "fix" my floors than to treat the adjacent apartments. Maybe they'll prove me wrong. They are generally great, considering most of the building is rent stable (not my apartment).
PMing Killer Queen was the first thing I did, since he's like magic, according to the forums.
Update: Curses! I'd actually kind of hoped that the bugs were only in my apartment, because then we would know that they could be dealt with properly and efficiently. Now we have confirmation that the infestation is coming from the apartment below us.
I'm T-3 weeks till the baby comes, and it seems unlikely that the problem will be resolved by then, which makes me feel already like a crappy mother. Who brings a newborn into these situations? How do I make sure he doesn't get bit while we're still fighting the problem? <sigh>
Yup, I was right there with you. I had a healthy baby boy six weeks ago, and I was pregnant during our three month battle. To be on the safe side we stayed in a hotel for w night or two after treatment, which was $ but put our minds ease. Ask your child's pediatrician about how long you should stay out if you are still getting treated when baby is born. If I wasn't on a blackberry I could go into great detail about the anguish I suffered as a pregnant woman in the midst of a bedbug infestation! Awful. You WILL beat it though, and good call getting in touch with KillerQueen.
when baby is born put climb up interceptors on the crib and get a bed bug mattress cover from bed bath and beyond. Message me if you need to vent or have any questions!
Update: <tear> I'm now days from my due date. May 2, the PCO came and treated our apartment and the apartment below us (that had the full infestation). We opted to have chemical treatments done in addition to the steam treatment we'd had earlier. We were good until today, when my husband got a bite again. Before that, our last bites were from April 30 on me (after I'd slept a few nights in the bedroom).
I'm still safely sleeping on the couch, but am not looking forward to another treatment and the waiting game and giving birth and having a new baby around.
So, what happens now? I'll be calling the PCO in the morning, but if something hatched then came out and bit my husband, is it going to die crossing the pesticides? I know they used Bedlam on everything for sure, but don't know what else was actually used (my OB and I approved a list) besides DE. Yes, I know I should know, but I'm already pretty insane with the impending infant.
Any advice? Words of reassurance?
Not an expert but usually they have to spray twice as the spray doesn't get all of the eggs which work on a 10-14 day cycle. You should be due for another spray very soon so catch any of them that have hatched out of eggs.
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