February is International Prenatal Infection Prevention month. Here are some ways that you can try to prevent infections during pregnancy.
Wash your hands: Washing your hands regularly can help to reduce the spread of colds, the flu and other infections, like cytomegalovirus (CMV).
Wash your hands:
- Before preparing or eating food
- After handling raw meat, raw eggs or unwashed vegetables
- After being around pets or animals
- After changing diapers, wiping runny noses, or picking up toys
Prepare food properly: Handle foods safely whenever you wash, prepare, cook and store them. Wash knives, cutting boards and dishes used to prepare raw meat, fish or poultry before using them for other foods. Foods to avoid during pregnancy include raw meat, fish, and eggs and unpasteurized foods.
Get vaccinated: Vaccinations can help protect you and your baby from certain infections during pregnancy. Some vaccinations are safe to get during pregnancy, but others are not. Talk to your provider to make sure any vaccination you get during pregnancy is safe. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date before you get pregnant.
Protect yourself from Zika: If you get infected with the Zika virus during pregnancy, you can pass it to your baby. It causes a birth defect called microcephaly and other brain problems. Zika virus spreads through mosquito bites and through body fluids, like blood and semen.
- If you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant, don’t visit a Zika-affected area unless absolutely necessary.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- If your male or female partner may be infected with Zika, use a barrier method (like a condom) every time you have sex or don’t have sex at all.
- If you’re pregnant and think you may have been exposed to Zika virus, see your health care provider right away.
Ask someone else to clean your cat’s litter box: If you have to do it yourself, wear gloves. Wash your hands thoroughly when you’re done emptying the litter. Dirty cat litter may contain toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite. Toxoplasmosis can cause health problems for your baby during pregnancy.
Get tested for sexually transmitted infections (STIs): STIs are infections you can get from having unprotected sex with someone who’s infected. If you’re pregnant and have an STI, it can cause serious problems for your baby, including premature birth and birth defects. Testing for STIs is a part of prenatal care. If you have an STI, getting treatment early can help protect your baby.
Have testing for Group B Strep (GBS): Many people carry Group B strep bacteria and don’t know it. It may never make you sick. GBS in adults usually doesn’t have any symptoms, but it can cause some minor infections, like a bladder or urinary tract infection (UTI). While GBS may not be harmful to you, it can be very harmful to your baby. Your provider tests you for GBS at 35 to 37 weeks of pregnancy. If you have GBS, you’ll receive IV antibiotics during labor and birth.
Talk to your health care provider: Talk to your provider about how to prevent infections, making sure that you’re up-to-date on your vaccinations before pregnancy, and what vaccinations you need during pregnancy.