Prenatal Infections in Pregnancy

Women are vulnerable to certain infections during pregnancy. If the infections are left untreated, they may become severe and develop further complications. They might affect you and your baby adversely. However, these can be prevented by taking a few preventive measures and making certain healthy choices.

What are Prenatal Infections?

Prenatal infections, also known as maternal infections, are caused during pregnancy or childbirth. These are primarily viral or bacterial infections that can be transmitted to the baby from the mother during pregnancy, labour, or shortly after birth. Such conditions increase the risk of preterm birth or health complications in the baby.

Types of prenatal infections

Prenatal infections are divided into two categories:

  • First category: It consists of infections that are acquired during pregnancy. TORCH-O stands for toxoplasmosis, syphilis, rubella, cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex, and other infections like chicken pox and zika virus, etc. These infections have a high possibility of passing onto your baby through the placenta.
  • Second category: These infections can be passed onto the baby through the birth canal. These include group B streptococcus, Hepatitis B virus, and HIV.

Implications of prenatal infection on pregnancy

Prenatal infections can cause various complications, including preterm birth, delayed development of the foetus, physical malformations, and sometimes pregnancy loss.

Infections that occur early in the pregnancy result in worse outcomes. TORCH-O infections are responsible for 2 to 3% of all congenital disorders. If diseases like HIV and Hepatitis B get transmitted to the baby, they might persist for a lifetime.


Pregnancy needs to be monitored with the help of a maternal foetal medicine specialist. Early and prompt treatment can reduce the risk of complications. Most mothers can be treated with medication, however, sometimes the infection cannot be treated, and proper rest and hydration are recommended.

Depending on the condition, the baby may require immediate medical attention or care in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The newborns should also be immunized to prevent transmission of diseases like Hepatitis B.

Tips to prevent prenatal infections.

  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water. This is especially important after using the washroom, preparing raw meat and vegetables, and playing with children.
  • Cook meat until it is well-cooked.
  • Don’t consume unpasteurized or raw dairy products.
  • Don’t share eating utensils, cups, and food with others.
  • Reduce contact with saliva and urine from babies and young children.
  • Avoid changing cat litter and keep your distance from wild or pet rodents.
  • Practice safe sex and get tested for sexually transmitted infections.
  • Make sure your vaccinations are up to date.
Please get in touch with your consultant to learn more about prenatal infections and their prevention.

Induction of Labour: Important things to know

For many mothers having a natural birth is a dream. Despite all the pain, they find the experience rewarding and empowering. Mothers with low-risk pregnancies choose natural birth to avoid possible risks and be in charge of their birthing journey. Chances of natural birth increase if a mother gets into labour spontaneously.

However, birthing is not always straightforward. What if a woman needs early delivery either because of medical complications or if her baby is not growing appropriately before spontaneously setting into labour? Does that shut down the chances of having a normal birth? Is a caesarean section the only option for her? The answer is ‘no.’ Induction of labour comes to the rescue in such cases.

Labour Induction

What is the Induction of Labour?

Labour induction is the process of artificially prompting the uterus to contract during pregnancy before labour begins on its own for a vaginal birth. Usually, the labour starts when a woman completes her term, that is, between 37 and 42 weeks of pregnancy.

Reasons for inducing labour

Some of the major reasons for the induction of labour are:

  • The woman is overdue (41 weeks and beyond)
  • Her water breaks without getting contractions
  • If the mother has medical problems like hypertension, gestational diabetes, or other medical complications.
  • The baby is not appropriately grown for that period.

Process of Induction of labour

Assessing the baby’s well-being before starting induction through a cardiotocograph is crucial. Once the process of inducing starts, the mother and baby will be closely monitored, and the labour progress will be periodically assessed. The process takes 24-48 hours, depending on the response. The primary purpose of Induction is to soften and dilate the cervix so that membranes around the baby can be broken.

Methods of Induction

    Either medical or mechanical methods are used to perform induction of labour.

  • Medical method: Medically induced labour is done by either placing pessary in the vagina or gel in the cervix. Oxytocin or Pitocin are given intravenously to induce labour or strengthen the contractions.
  • Mechanical method: In the mechanical process, a Foley catheter is placed in the cervix that causes the cervix to dilate. Then it is inflated with normal saline/ distilled water. Foley bulb induction is a safe way to promote cervical dilation in pregnancy when required.

If the cervix does not dilate sufficiently using one method, other methods may be used. However, the chances of vaginal birth decrease as the number of procedures required for induction increases. A caesarean section is performed if one/ all methods fail (that is, there is no progress of labour) or if any risk factors develop.