How to Prevent Infections During Pregnancy

Infections in a mother-to-be can sometimes lead to birth defects in her unborn child. Maintaining proper hygiene and taking a few extra precautions can sometimes mean the difference between a healthy, happy baby and a life-threatening illness. The following article will provide you with steps to help prevent an infection.

Steps

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    Know that you won't always be aware that you have an infection. Often you won't even feel symptoms. If you believe you may have an infection, see your doctor.
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    Wash your hands often with soap and warm water. This is exceptionally important if you have done any of the following:
    • Used the bathroom.
    • Touched raw meat, raw eggs, or unwashed vegetables.
    • Prepared food for consumption.
    • Touched dirt or soil.
    • Handled pets. Especially hamsters or guinea pigs.
    • Been in contact with someone who is ill.
    • If you have gotten saliva on your hands
    • Changed a diaper.
    • Played with children.
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    Do not share eating and drinking utensils with children. A child's saliva could contain a virus. The virus could be harmless to them, but it could be hazardous to you and the fetus.
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    Cook meats thoroughly. If cooked properly, the juices will be clear and there will be no pink inside. Do not eat hot dogs, lunch meats, or deli meats, unless they are steaming hot.
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    Do not consume unpasteurized (raw) milk or food made with it. Avoid soft cheeses unless they have labels that tell you they are pasteurized.
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    Do not touch or change dirty cat litter. If you must change the litter, wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly when finished. Cat litter can contain a harmful parasite that causes the infection toxoplasmosis. This infection can cause blindness or intellectual disability later in your child's life.
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    Avoid rodents. Hire a professional to get rid of rats or mice in your house. If you own a pet rodent, like a hamster or guinea pig, have someone else take care of it.
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    Drink plenty of water.
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    Eat a diet with plenty of fresh foods.
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    Avoid sharing cutlery or food with other people.
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    Get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). If you already have an STD, talk to your doctor about what you can do to reduce the risks to your child.
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    Get vaccinated. Speak to your doctor about vaccines that are recommended before you become pregnant, during your pregnancy, or after the birth of your baby. The correct vaccinations at the appropriate time can keep you well, keep your baby from getting ill, or prevent health problems that may last them a lifetime.
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    Avoid others who have an infection. If you know someone who has chickenpox or rubella, stay away from them. This is very important if you have not had the infection yourself, or have not been vaccinated before getting pregnant.
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    Talk to your doctor about group B strep. Nearly 1 in 4 women carry this type bacteria and have no symptoms. A swab test nearing the end of pregnancy will reveal if you the bacteria. If you have group B strep, discuss steps with your doctor concerning how to safeguard your baby.

Tips

  • Avoid eating smoked seafood that has been refrigerated unless it is in a precooked dish.
  • The dust from a pet rodent's bedding materials can carry the virus that causes infection. It is best to keep any pet rodents in an area of the home you can easily avoid.
  • Hard cheeses are safe to eat. Semi-soft cheeses, like mozzarella, cream cheese, and cottage cheese are safe as well.
  • Have someone clean your refrigerator regularly. Juices from packages of hot dogs or deli-meats can often leak.
  • If soap and warm water are not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer will suffice.
  • Avoid kissing young children on the mouth or cheek. Kiss them on the top of their head or give them a warm hug instead.
  • Drink clean water. Whenever possible, drink bottled water or water that has been filtered.
  • Chicken pox is highly contagious. Avoid areas where the infection may be prevalent, such as day care centers and schools where young children are present.

Warnings

  • Smoking while pregnant can cause premature birth, low birth weight, birth defects, and death.
  • Drinking alcohol while pregnant can cause a range of disorders, known as fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). One of the most distressing effects of drinking during pregnancy is fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).
  • The use of illegal drugs while pregnant can cause birth defects and even death.

Article Info

Categories: Reproductive Health