15 Feb International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month
February is International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month, and it’s a great opportunity to educate ourselves about the importance of maternal immunization, as well as the risks of infections during pregnancy.
In Europe, a variety of prenatal infections pose a threat to both mothers and their babies, and these infections could lead to severe health problems, lifelong disabilities and birth defects, such as hearing loss and learning problems. This is precisely why all of us should make it a priority to take the necessary precautions before, during, and after our pregnancy.
For your convenience, we’ve prepared a list with useful tips for all three stages:
1. Get vaccinated: You need to be up to date with your vaccines, even before becoming pregnant. Every country has its own list of mandatory vaccines, which do not always include the flu vaccine, but protecting yourself against the seasonal flu can reduce the risk of serious complications during your pregnancy.
2. Get tested: You should be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) before becoming pregnant. Some STIs, such as chlamydia and gonorrhea, could cause serious problems in pregnancy, especially if left untreated. There are also other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that you need to get tested for, such as HIV or Hepatitis B, that do not always manifest with symptoms. Last but not least, you should also get tested for a common type of bacteria women carry without knowing, namely Group B streptococcus. Pregnant women are very likely to pass this bacteria to their babies during delivery, which later becomes the leading cause of meningitis and bloodstream infections in newborns’ first three months of life.
3. Avoid risky behavior: Using drugs, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption should be avoided, as the negative effects they have can increase the risk of infections during pregnancy.
1. Keep up with prenatal care: By attending all your prenatal appointments and reporting any symptoms, such as fever, you will help identify potential infections before they develop.
2. Avoid contact with infected individuals: It is not recommended to be in close contact with individuals who are contagious, such as people who have the flu, chickenpox or rubella. Apart from that, you should also avoid contact with saliva and urine from babies and young children, and you can do that by choosing not to share food and utensils with them, and washing your hands after changing their diapers.
3. Follow good hygiene practices: Getting into the habit of washing your hands regularly and avoiding undercooked food will help prevent the spread of infections to you and to the baby you’re carrying. Washing your hands is also essential after partaking in activities such as gardening or handling pets.
4. Avoid touching and eating raw foods: Preparing food is not forbidden, but if the cooking process involves you touching raw meat, raw eggs, or unwashed vegetables, you should not forget to wash your hands afterward. Also, unpasteurized milk and foods made from it, such as feta or brie cheeses, are not recommended because they contain harmful bacteria, unless their packaging includes a label saying that they’ve been pasteurized.
5. Do not touch or change dirty cat litter: If you have a cat as a pet, then you should know that the cat feces contain a harmful parasite called toxoplasma. For this reason it’d be better if someone else changes your cat’s litter, on a daily basis; but if no one else is available, you should use disposable gloves and wash your hands afterward.
1. Get vaccinated: Both you and your baby should get vaccinated upon you giving birth, to boost your immunity against future infections. Even if the Tdap vaccine (against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) isn’t included in the mandatory vaccines list, in your country, it’s worth considering getting it.
2. Breastfeed: It has been demonstrated that breastfeeding provides important health benefits for both the mother and the baby. Do your best to ensure a longer breastfeeding period for your baby, but don’t feel discouraged if things don’t go to plan.
3. Continue with prenatal care: Make sure to attend all your scheduled appointments with your doctor, even after giving birth, to monitor your baby’s health and your own too.
By following these recommended steps, you can rest assured that both your and your baby’s health and wellbeing are taken care of. Consider that taking precautions now equals giving your baby the best possible start in life.
At Reproclinic, we understand the importance of prenatal infection prevention and strive to provide the best care for our patients. If you’re considering starting a family, we invite you to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced doctors.