When you are pregnant, your unborn baby relies on you and your behaviors to keep it safe and healthy. Here are some helpful steps to take in preventing prenatal infections.
Yes to Handwashing – We’ve always known that handwashing is important and we’ve seen the impact of that especially as it relates to cold and flu prevention and now to fight the spread of COVID-19. Other infections such as E. coli, and salmonella can also be prevented by washing your hands. E. coli has been known to cause low birth weight, premature delivery and stillbirth. In rare cases, salmonella bacteria can infect the amniotic fluid and can lead to miscarriage. If you think you have an infection, consult your doctor immediately.
Yes to Prenatal Care – Regular checkups from your doctor throughout your pregnancy is critical to the health of your baby. Typically, you should have your first appointment between 6 and 12 weeks of your pregnancy. Taking a multivitamin or prenatal vitamin with 400 to 800 mcg of folic acid every day is an important part of a healthy pregnancy and can help prevent some major birth defects of your baby’s brain and spine.
Yes to Food Safety – Pregnancy can change your immune system and place your baby at an increased risk for foodborne illness. Especially during the first trimester, listeria may cause miscarriage, but as pregnancy progresses to the third trimester,the mother is more at risk. Listeria can also lead to premature labor, low-birth weight, or infant death. Prevention includes washing hands and surfaces often, don’t cross-contaminate when cooking, cook to proper temperatures, and refrigerate food promptly.
Yes to Immunizations – During pregnancy, vaccinated mothers pass antibodies on to their babies, providing protection against disease for both you and your baby. Infections such as flu, tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) are all preventable with vaccines. Talk to your doctor to ensure that you are caught up on all your vaccines and if the COVID-19 vaccine is right for you.
No to Other’s Bodily Fluids – Many infections can be spread through other’s bodily fluids such as blood, saliva, mucus and urine. Avoiding these can prevent Herpes (HSV) 1 and 2, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, Ebola, cytomegalovirus (CMV), hepatitis viruses, flu, fifth disease (HPV B-19).
No to Invasive Procedures – Minimizing and avoiding unnecessary internal exams during pregnancy can help prevent infection. Vaginal or perineal ultrasounds are less invasive than exams that may strip your membranes (such as amniocentesis). The most common reason to have an amniocentesis performed is to determine whether the baby has certain genetic disorders or a chromosomal abnormality, such as Down syndrome. Your doctor can guide you to the procedures that are right for you and your baby.
Yes to Environmental Precautions – Environmental hazards such as cigarette smoke and pesticides can increase the risk of poor prenatal growth, birth defects, leukemia and impared neurodevelopment. To reduce these risks to your unborn baby, avoid chemical tick and flea collars and dips for your pets, and other pesticides both inside and outdoors. Remove shoes before you come into your house to prevent tracking lawn chemicals and other pollutants. And, wash produce thoroughly before eating.
Taking care of both yourself and your baby during pregnancy will make a positive impact on the health of your unborn and newborn baby.