Pregnancy is a massive change for the body. Everything from your hormones to your immune system is changing to accommodate the new life that is growing inside. But this also means your defences are down and you are more vulnerable to all kinds of infections. Some of the most common infections that pregnant women can encounter include those of the skin, urinary and respiratory tract. While most often they cause no significant complications, some infections can be passed to the foetus before or during birth and even cause miscarriage or premature birth.
Here are some simple measures for you to take to protect yourself and your baby:
Good Hygiene Is Important
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water often during the day and carry an alcohol-based sanitizer while travelling.
Pet And Pest Control
If you have pets, have someone else clean up the litter or wear gloves if you really must do it yourself. This is true, especially in the case of cats as kitty poo and soiled cat litter could contain a harmful parasite that causes toxoplasmosis infection. Although rare, catching this infection when pregnant or even a few months before you get pregnant can pass on to and harm the foetus. In some cases, it can also cause miscarriage or stillbirth.
Before your baby is born, have your home deep cleaned and checked by pest control professionals. If you have a pet hamster or guinea pig, see if someone can babysit them for a few months until your baby is born. Why? Because some rodents droppings may carry a harmful virus like Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus or LCMV. This is said to be an under-recognised cause of neurologic disease in many cases of pregnant women.
Keep Away From Sick People
This might seem like common sense, but the purpose of saying this is to reinforce the idea of vigilance. This is relevant especially if you haven’t been vaccinated with MMR vaccine or have never had Chicken Pox. If you suspect people have infections like chickenpox or rubella, stay away.
Avoid Raw Food And Milk
Besides washing all vegetables well during the rains, stay away from meat that hasn’t been cooked through, raw eggs, unpasteurised milk and soft cheeses that are often not made from pasteurised milk. These might contain bacteria that can harm you and your child.
Get Your Vaccines
If you are in the process of planning a pregnancy, this should be one of the most important discussions to have with your doctor. Vaccines strengthen the immune system and help fight off serious infectious diseases. Maternal vaccination helps protect mom from infections, and this immunity passes to her baby during pregnancy. This immunity protects the baby during the first few months of its life until they start their vaccine schedule. Vaccination also protects mothers from getting a severe disease that could affect future pregnancies — common vaccines include Tetanus, Hepatitis A&B and Influenza.
Check For STIs & STDs
Another critical way to protect both mum and baby involves getting tested for Sexually Transmitted Infections like HIV and Hepatitis B. This is important especially if you do test positive as many steps can be taken to reduce the chances it will pass on from mother to child.
Home remedies and old sage wisdom may work, but when it comes to the health of mother and baby, be safe rather than sorry. While your doctor might already be prescribing some prenatal vitamins, avoid adding to, subtracting from or playing with the dosage. If you feel like the weather is bringing on the sniffles, run ALL medications, remedies and treatments by your doctor when you are pregnant, including natural or herbal food and drinks.
Stay Tuned To The News
When you are pregnant, keep track of infectious outbreaks, insect-borne diseases and reports on medical happenings in and around your country. If you’re planning a trip, make sure you have the necessary information about that place as well. Take all the precautions required to keep you and your baby safe and keep your medical history and doctor’s details handy.