A healthy immune system is one of the most important parts of overall health and well-being. During pregnancy, women are more susceptible to infections. While some are harmless yet some can be harmful to those who are carrying such as bacterial vaginosis, and can harm their babies during pregnancy or after they are born. During the infection, white blood cells take up residence inside a pregnant woman’s vagina. These infections can be more likely in the second half of pregnancy.
Factors like less immunity, stress, and tiredness can impact your ability to safely deliver your baby and could lead to complications. Different birth outcomes and complications are possible, including delivery complications. Because of the risk for serious adverse effects, pregnant women need to receive immediate treatment.
It is always recommended that if a patient has developed signs or symptoms of infections, they should not delay treatment.
What is infection during pregnancy?
An organism that enters your body and causes diseases is generally termed as infection. The germs such as bacteria, virus, yeast, fungi, or other microorganisms present in the body causing infections during pregnancy is known as pregnancy infection. They can spread throughout the body if not treated in time and can cause harm to your baby inside your womb. The longer your baby stays in your uterus, the more infections you can develop. So make sure to visit your doctor regularly for check ups. To overcome such infections one needs to develop their immune system.
To understand how an immune system works, it’s important to take a closer look at what it does.
The immune system consists of three major parts:
- “T cells”
- ” B cells”
- ” T helper ( T H ) 2/3 phagocytes
These three parts act in concert to destroy disease causing microorganisms, toxins, viruses, etc. T cells are the second major part of the immune system, although they are not what we think of when we say “immune system.” They are the cells of the immune system.
Risk of certain infections during pregnancy
Pregnancy can also change a woman’s risk for certain infections and diseases, including:
- Infection of the brain
- Spinal cord
- Infections of the skin
- Respiratory tract
- Infections of the eyes, skin, joints, eyes, ear and sinuses.
- Cervical cancer
- Intestinal infection
- Chronic kidney disease
Infection during pregnancy can cause mild to severe illness. If you have symptoms of flu during pregnancy, see your doctor right away. Do not delay seeking care, as influenza can cause serious complications for the mother and her baby. Influenza is a respiratory virus that causes flu-like symptoms in humans. It is not transmitted from person to person.
Diarrhea and stomach aches
Diarrhea and stomach aches (as well as vomiting, lack of appetite and foul-smelling bowel movements) This condition is most likely to be life-threatening for mothers if they don’t see a GP and are not treated quickly. It can also make it harder to breastfeed your baby. Even very mild diarrhoea can cause blood to go into your baby’s mouth.
When HCG levels are high, your risk of becoming infected increases. HCG and other hormones can also keep you from getting better in the days after getting sick. Your risk of getting an STD may increase if you have an elevated level of HCG in your blood or if you have any of the following conditions: The liver is damaged or fails to function properly (hepatitis B or C) A kidney disorder that affects how your kidneys filter waste (electrolyte imbalances).
A major blood clot or other blood-related health problem that prevents blood from draining well from your skin or cuts into blood vessels in your legs (deep vein thrombosis)
Infections during second trimester
Many pregnant women become infected during their second trimester, when the placenta breaks and can be passed into the amniotic fluid. In the event of miscarriage or death of the mother, toxoplasmosis infection can lead to congenital infection, mental retardation, vision loss, and neurological problems. The chances for these complications may be greater in women who are immune suppressed or have other diseases, such as cystic fibrosis.
If you are pregnant with a high-risk baby, it’s important to be screened for STIs during that time. The best way to avoid infection during pregnancy is to take a comprehensive STI prevention regimen.
If a women contracts HIV virus during pregnancy it can be a serious life threatening problem. Despite progress, there is still a need to find new ways to prevent, diagnose, treat, and care for HIV-infected people with HIV. Despite the ongoing need for new therapies, the cost of living has decreased significantly for people with HIV and their families in the past decade.
Group b streptococcus infection
The infection is most frequently transmitted during vaginal deliveries. In the United States, approximately 10% of women who have experienced vaginal delivery are reported to have primary or secondary infection of group B streptococcus; approximately one third of those women contract group B streptococcus infection following the second and third trimesters.
In those who contract the infection, group B streptococcus typically persists in the body for 7–14 days. Although vaginal streptococcus has been tested as a cause of postpartum death, the associations that have been observed are not sufficient to conclusively link the organism to death.
Types of infections occur during pregnancy
- Bacterial infections
- Viral infections
- Fungal infections
- Parasitic infections.
Infections such as infection by amoeba and toxin-producing Escherichia coli bacteria can cause serious damage. These infections can lead to organ damage and even death. If you have infections during pregnancy, make sure to take antibiotics as prescribed.
Some of the most common is the Zika virus. This virus can cause a rare condition called Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which involves the body’s immune system destroying parts of the brain and spinal cord.
Why are pregnant women more prone to infections?
Immune system changes
During pregnancy your immune system should put a little more effort to gather more strength in order to fight the bacteria or diseases inside your body. Women with compromised immunity cannot protect their developing fetuses from exposure to harmful bacteria and cytokines associated with mothers’ blood, because in these circumstances the mother’s systemic immune system is compromised, which results in an underestimation of viral risk to the fetus.
Pregnancy is a very hostile environment for the human body. For the pregnant woman, the endotoxin threat is posed by the bacteria present in her blood stream. From the first trimester of pregnancy onward, the microorganisms present in the placenta can interfere with the mother’s immune system and cause elevated levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and an array of harmful cytokines that significantly damage the fetus and placental cells.
Body system changes
Hormonal changes can increase the risk of infections in pregnant women. These changes affect the urinary tract made up of kidneys, uterus, bladder, and urethra. The stagnation of urine in your bladder can increase the risk of urinary tract infection. Women are more at risk for developing a UTI during pregnancy than men.
How can pregnant women improve their health to stay away from infections?
The best way for pregnant women to protect themselves is by taking a daily prenatal vitamin, making sure they eat a healthy diet and avoiding low-vitamin or vitamin B-12 rich foods such as cabbage, tomatoes, onions and the cashews that are so popular in the UK. Although every pregnant woman needs to eat well, foods with little or no vitamin B-12 can be problematic, especially if consumed for prolonged periods of time, or in larger quantities than necessary.
Aside from getting enough vitamin B-12, making sure you get enough vitamin D (the sun’s rays) during pregnancy will also help your immune system respond more effectively, preventing infections from occurring and attacking healthy cells.
Some women are better able to fight off and eliminate infections during pregnancy because they have higher levels of certain immune cells. The immune system is a complex system that enables an embryo to protect its mother from infection.
Researchers have found that the presence of one specific type of immune cell – called T cells – is a better predictor of when a baby may be less susceptible to infection.
Steps to prevent infections during pregnancy
Be sure to clean your vagina with mild soap and water immediately after having sex.
- Do not consume raw dairy products.
- Take vaccinations if required
- Try not to shower, douche, or use douches.
- Do not reuse tampons or absorbency pads or have sex with multiple partners. Avoid sharing toys and knives.
- If you are concerned about your vaginal cleanliness, use an antiseptic (e.g., 4% alcohol solution) to clean your vagina.
Always read the product label and follow the instructions
If you have HIV or a sexually transmitted infection (STI), seek prompt medical care if you have any of these symptoms: sudden or intense pain in the lower abdomen, stomach, or back, bleeding between periods, or infection of the genital area.
Your provider may suggest a diagnosis of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or yeast infection. You may need medications to treat this infection. Women diagnosed with HIV should have a prophylactic anti-HIV vaccine given by your provider before starting antiretroviral (ARV) therapy. Seek prompt medical care if you are concerned about your vaginal cleanliness or if you have diarrhea, frequent and bloody vaginal discharge, or pain with sex. You will probably need to see your health care provider for regular checkups, for treatment of STIs, and for STD testing.
Infections during pregnancy should not be neglected. You may want to call your health care provider in person, by phone, or by email. If you don’t feel well, tell your provider about your symptoms and other information you’ve been able to gather, including recent travel history, personal hygiene, and exposure to contagious diseases.