It’s amazing how a woman’s body copes up with so many physical changes during pregnancy. A lot goes into the making of a baby right from conception up to delivery. This is the time when women are susceptible to many infections. It could be due to the numerous physiological and hormonal changes in the body.
Though regular infections do not cause any harm to the baby and can be treated with medical intervention, there are some rare, yet scary infections which could lead to complications in delivery. Pregnant women usually go through some tests to rule out infections that could harm the baby. But if you still can’t evade them, it’s a matter of concern and should be immediately attended to. Taking proper care during this crucial phase can reduce the chances of contracting these infections.
These are the five serious but rare pregnancy infections you should be aware of:
1. Hepatitis B
This is one of the most common infections that attack the liver during pregnancy, causing it to swell. It could affect the child in the womb and needs to be treated immediately. If Hepatitis B virus is not controlled, it could lead to jaundice in pregnant women. It occurs due to unprotected sex or direct contact with Hepatitis B virus infected blood. If not treated, this infection could lead to grave problems like bleeding during pregnancy, low baby birth weight, premature baby and stillborn birth.
As soon as you conceive, getting antenatal blood tested for Hepatitis B virus is important. If you have the infection, doctors will suggest treatments taking your pregnancy into consideration.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite called toxoplasma gondii, which is present in cat feces and undercooked lamb or pork meat. Pregnant women pose the risk of passing this infection to the baby in their womb. This could cause hearing problems and learning disabilities in babies and vision loss at birth. Treatment for this infection is decided based on its severity. If the child is already affected, pregnancy-safe antibiotics are prescribed.
Listeriosis is an infection caused by bacteria called listeria monocytogenes, which is present in processed foods, contaminated water, and animal feces. In pregnant women, the fetus poses a risk of contracting this infection from the mother. If not treated, it could lead to miscarriage, death of the fetus, premature delivery and stillbirth.
To prevent listeriosis, pregnant women should refrain from processed meat, dairy items, and packaged food. If an expecting mother has contracted listeriosis virus, it can be treated with antibiotics.
4. Herpes in pregnancy
Genital herpes is an infection caused by herpes simplex virus. This is a sexually transmitted infection and shows itself with blisters on genitals. Herpes infection during early pregnancy can be treated with medical intervention. If it strikes in the later part of pregnancy, doctors recommend a C- section to ensure it doesn’t pass to the baby during delivery. Babies born with this infection could develop sores on the skin. It also affects the nervous-system of new borns.
Antiviral medicines can prevent or shorten herpes outbreak. However, there is no particular cure for it.
5. Group B streptococcus (GBS)
This is a rare form of vaginal infection occurring in pregnant women. It could lead to complications in childbirth if diagnosed in the later part of pregnancy. This infection can be passed to the baby during labor. Most babies don’t suffer the ill-effects of GBS but the ones that do, have low blood pressure, poor feeding and abnormally low or high heart-rate. If an expecting mother is diagnosed with GBS, she is put on antibiotics to treat the infection.
Every expecting mom should take these 10 precautions to prevent infections during pregnancy:
- If you are planning to have a baby, get yourself tested to rule out the possibility of infections during pregnancy.
- Make sure you have protected sex all through your pregnancy.
- If you are susceptible to certain infections, keep your eyes open to the symptoms. A regular checkup always helps.
- Ensure that your doctor is using sterilized syringes and instruments during tests and treatments.
- Include immunity boosting foods in your diet. Opt for boiled vegetables instead of raw ones.
- Stay away from animal faeces.
- Ask your doctor to put you on antibiotics that are safe to consume during pregnancy. This is only if you are diagnosed with a certain infection.
- Drink ample water to avoid any kind of urinary track infection.
- Wash your hands at regular intervals. Especially before eating food and after visiting outdoor places.
- Be active. Regular walks, yoga, and pregnancy safe breathing exercises will keep you healthy throughout your pregnancy.