Ways to Prevent Disease and Infection Before and During Pregnancy
International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month happens each February and is a worldwide observance to promote awareness of infections transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy or during the delivery process. Prenatal infection prevention is essential for the wellbeing of the infant and the protection of the mother. (US Dept. of Health 2013)
The incidence of prenatal infection depends on the causative agent; however, globally in 2016, it was estimated that approximately 2.6 million infants died within the first month of life and approximately 700,000 infants die each year due to infectious diseases. Though the United States has made significant progress in reducing the incidence of prenatal disease transmission, it remains a significant priority for the United States and a threat for many countries worldwide (Schape-Scott 2018).
Vaccines and Pregnancy
Maternal Immunization: Maternal immunizations provide a pregnant woman greater protection against infectious diseases which induces high levels of maternal antibodies that can be transferred to the fetus and helps protect newborn during their first months of life until he is old enough to be vaccinated.
Before Becoming Pregnant: A woman needs to ensure that she is up-to-date on all vaccines and test disease immunity if necessary. However, some vaccines are not recommended to be administered directly before or during pregnancy, women should consult with a healthcare provider to discuss vaccines before conception.
During Pregnancy: A woman is highly recommended to receive an influenza (flu) vaccine even during pregnancy.
After Pregnancy: Postpartum vaccination is highly beneficial to the mother and the newborn. Vaccines will protect the mother from acquiring a vaccine-preventable disease and will lessen the baby’s risk of exposure to it. (Healthy Children 2019)
7 Tips for Preventing Infections Before and During Pregnancy
- Good Hygiene: Pregnant women easily get infections by in-person contact, such as kissing, touching and sexual contact. Good hygiene practices, such as frequent hand washing, not sharing foods, drinks, or utensils, can lessen your chances of becoming infected with potentially harmful illnesses. It is also equally important if the pregnant mother stays in touch with young children or work with them. As few potentially harmful infections are more prevalent in young children.
- Hand Washing: Hand washing is an essential and most effective way to prevent the spread of infection. Hands should frequently be washed after eating, using the bathroom, after assisting a child with toileting, cleaning a young child’s nose, handling garbage or cleaning or touching a pet. To avoid any infection, you must pay special attention to the fingernails, between the fingers, and wrists. Rinse hands thoroughly and, ideally, dry with a single-use towel.
- Protection from Zika Virus: Avoid traveling from known areas with Zika. And in case you need to travel an area where Zika is active or can be found, please consult with the doctor first and learn about the precautions as well during the trip.
- Avoid Unpasteurized (Raw) Milk and Foods: During pregnancy, you should avoid soft cheeses such as feta, brie, and queso fresco unless they have labels as pasteurized. Unpasteurized products can contain harmful bacteria.
- Screening Group B Streptococcus (GBS): About 1 in 4 women carry this type of bacteria but don’t get sick. With the help of a swab test, it can be identified whether you have the bacteria or not. In case the results are positive, it’s advisable to reach out to your doctor for a further course of medication to protect your unborn child.
- Check on STI’s (Sexually Transmitted Infections): It’s advisable to have a test to check for HIV and hepatitis B and protect yourself from them because these diseases might not make you sick but there are possibilities can pass on to your unborn child.
- Take Only Prescribed Doses Recommended by Your Doctor: During your pregnancy, your doctor may recommend a daily prenatal vitamin pill, which includes folic acid, iron, calcium, and other minerals as per the standards of DHA & ARA. It’s advisable that your doctor must know in case you’re consuming any other medication apart from these, especially those including herbal remedies to avoid any drug interactions. (CDC 2019)
Schedule An Appointment!
We hope that these tips will help new Moms with questions during pregnancy; however, we recommend strongly that you immediately schedule an appointment with your doctor if you’re sick or believe you’ve been exposed to a contagious disease. The sooner an infection is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome for you and your baby.
If you feel you are experiencing a health emergency, our Board-Certified ER doctors are prepared to treat Mom and baby 24/7.
“February Is International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month.” Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
Sharpe-Scott, Kimberly. “International Prenatal Infection Prevention Month: The Importance of Maternal Immunization.” The Essential Elements, 15 Feb. 2018, essentialelements.naccho.org/archives/9395.
“Simple Steps to Prevent Infections During Pregnancy.” HealthyChildren.org,
“10 Tips for Preventing Infections Before and During Pregnancy.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4 Dec. 2019, www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/infections.html.