The bad news is that prenatal infections can cause serious to life threatening illnesses or birth defects for your developing embryo or baby. The good news is, most of these infections are avoidable with a little education and proactive prevention strategies.

5 Tips to Avoid Prenatal Infections Before They Start

February is Prenatal Infection Awareness Month, and what better way to honor that than to share these simple, but important, tips to help you and your baby enjoy a healthy, full-term pregnancy, labor and delivery.

Be diligent about your prenatal care visits

Whether this is your first baby or your fourth, every prenatal visit matters. These visits are important for tracking the health of you and your baby, and for red flagging any signs that a prenatal infection is in motion – or a risk for you. Also, your OB/GYN will also ensure you’re screened for Group B Streptococcus (GBS) during your last weeks of pregnant so you can take proper precautions if you test positive.

Get screened for STDs

Some of the most harmful STDs for infants are also the most common and asymptomatic. If you haven’t been screened already, do allow your healthcare provider to screen you for STDs. These screenings are free to very low-cost and treatment is almost always as simple as a round of relevant antibiotics.

Use good hygiene habits

While becoming a germaphobe isn’t healthy (stress can be every bit as harmful, or more,

prenatal infections

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as a common cold or flu!), pregnancy is certainly a reason to focus on good hygiene habits. Many of the infectious diseases that harm babies in utero (cytomegalovirus (CMV), chicken pox, rubella) are transmitted via body fluids (saliva, blood, breast milk, urine, blood) or through respiration.

Be diligent about washing your hands regularly, especially if you work at a day care or with young children, and avoid sharing food and drinks for now. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.

The Zika virus, spread through mosquito bites or semen, is also harmful for developing embryos, so read, Worried About the Zika Virus? Here’s What You Need to Know, for tips on how to avoid infection.

Eat what you should, avoid what you shouldn’t

Diet is so important for you prenatal and postnatal health. Not only does a diet full of fresh fruits and veggies, along with lots of healthy protein, help you and your baby to be nourished – it also helps to boost your immune system, protecting you from developing harmful infections.

That being said, there are some food-borne infections – like lysteriosis – that cross the placenta and will negatively affect your baby. Therefore, it’s recommended that pregnant women avoid certain foods until after baby is born, including:

  • Cold cuts and deli meat
  • Unpasteurized (raw) dairy products
  • Sushi
  • Raw sprouts
  • Refrigerated, smoked sea foods

Ask your doctor for as specific list of foods that are on the “Pregnancy Don’ts” list and for further details.

Update vaccinations if needed

Most of the major, life-threatening diseases that could harm your baby are preventable via vaccines. Review your vaccination record with your obstetrician and/or midwife if you haven’t done so already to determine if you’re current or not.

Schedule your prenatal appointment with the team here at Overlake and you’ll receive comprehensive prenatal care dedicated to keeping you and your baby as healthy as possible.