Common Infections During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is the most wonderful phase in a woman’s life and every woman wants to be in the best health during this time. However, pregnancy can come with its share of uneasiness and being ill can take away from the experience. This makes it essential to take preventive measures, especially because it could be harmful to your baby.

What Can Make You Prone to Certain Infections?

Our body has a natural defence mechanism to protect us from bacteria and viruses. Antibodies help fight infections, but sometimes our body fails to make enough antibodies.

Infections occur during pregnancy mainly because the immunity is lowered. The immune system adapts to protect you as well as your baby. Some part of the defence mechanism is enhanced while some gets suppressed.

Infections contracted during pregnancy can be complicated as they affect not only you but, in some cases, also your baby. Therefore, learning about these infections and getting timely treatment is crucial. Here is a list of some common infections:

Vaginal infections

Vaginal infections can be caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses growing in and around the vagina. Few vaginal infections that are most common during pregnancy are –

1.Yeast infection:

Yeast infection is commonly caused by a fungus called candida. This infection is one of the most common infections during pregnancy because of your hormonal changes and changes in the immune system.

Symptoms noticed?

  • Itching around the vagina
  • Thick, white or yellowish vaginal discharge
  • Strange odour from the vagina

What to do?

Consult your obstetrician if you notice any of the above to treat the infection so that your pregnancy is not compromised. Vaginal yeast infections may be easily treated by using cream or anti-fungal oral medicines.

2.Bacterial vaginosis:

 Bacterial vaginosis is another common infection during pregnancy. It usually occurs when there is an overgrowth of the normally occurring bacteria in your vagina.

Symptoms noticed?

  • Itching, burning or pain in the vagina
  • Greyish discharge
  • Pain while urinating
  • Fishy odour

What to do?

Seek advice from your obstetrician for the course of treatment. Your obstetrician may advise you a simple vaginal culture test for the diagnosis of the infection. Bacterial vaginosis if left untreated during your pregnancy, might cause premature birth or low birth weight babies.

3.Group B Streptococcus (GBS):

Group B Streptococcus (GBS) infection can be harmful to your baby and have adverse effects on you as well. This bacterium is normally found in the digestive, urinary, and reproductive tracts in men and women in small amounts. However, in a small percentage of pregnant women, the infection may pass to the baby.

Symptoms noticed?

There are no symptoms noticed but if passed to your baby it may cause early-onset or late-onset infection.

Early-onset infection: This may occur in the first week after childbirth, generally in the first 24-48 hours. It may lead to lung infections, blood infections or meningitis in your baby.

Late-onset infection: Late-onset infection may occur after the first 6 days of your childbirth and may lead to meningitis or pneumonia in your baby. Symptoms of GBS in your baby are irritability, inactivity, high fever, vomiting, and poor feeding.

What to do?

Check with your hospital if they offer any treatment or test for this infection. The obstetrician will test you for GBS late in your pregnancy and if the results are positive, treatment is started so that the infection is not passed to your baby.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a viral infection transmitted through contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected person. During your pregnancy, this infection may be passed to your baby. Hepatitis B test is important so that you can plan the precautions to be taken during and after your childbirth to protect your baby from contracting the virus.

Symptoms noticed?

  • Joint pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain

What to do?

If you notice any of the above symptoms, consult your obstetrician to take preventative measures. Your obstetrician will test you for hepatitis B during your prenatal visits.

 

Your relationship with the obstetrician is vital during pregnancy. Being aware of the different types of infections during your pregnancy, allows you to recognize the symptoms. Also, being aware of the risk of infection and the potential harm to you and your baby can help prevent transmission.

Make sure you talk to your obstetrician or midwife if you have any concerns or queries during pregnancy.


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