Pregnancy is a beautiful, but delicate time in a woman’s life. There are a multitude of changes being carried out in the woman’s body, affecting hormone levels and basic body functions. One of the side effects of pregnancy is the weakening of the immune system in the body, which makes the expecting mothers and their unborn children susceptible to a host of illnesses.
Viral infections are one of the issues pregnant women are prone to during this season. While they may not affect the body to a great extent, pregnancy may make them severe and affect the mother, and her unborn child to a large extent. They can lead to miscarriage, preterm labour, or even birth defects in the foetus. It is extremely important to identify these infections early, and begin treatment to minimise risks to both, mother and child. Some of these infections include:
This type of fungal infection that is fairly common in women of all ages. Studies have shown that it affects three out of four women at least once in their life and around 45% of women experience it twice. It causes intense irritation, discharge, and itchiness of the vagina and vulva. The infection is easily treatable with medication, but can become complicated when pregnant as it can be passed on to the baby during delivery. Its treatment includes antifungal creams or vaginal suppository, but oral antifungal drugs are not recommended, as they have been linked to causing miscarriages.
The vagina contains two kinds of bacteria – lactobacilli and anaerobes. There usually exists a careful balance between the two, but an imbalance can lead to an infection known as Bacterial Vaginosis, which is one of the most common infections in pregnant women. This is usually a mild infection and is easily treatable with medicine, but if left untreated, can cause complications in pregnancy like early delivery, low birth weight of the baby, and increased chances of contracting other infections. It can be treated with antibiotics, and usually clears up within two or three days.
Also known as a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), it is caused when bacteria is present in a voided urine sample. This infection does not cause any noticeable symptoms, and only refers to the detection of a high level of bacteria in the urine sample. According to medical experts, this infection affects 1.9 to 9.5% of pregnant women. Early detection and treatment is important, as the infection can lead to a number of serious issues like acute urethritis, acute cystitis, acute pyelonephritis, low birth weight in the baby, and preterm labour.
Cytomegalovirus Infection (CMV):
Cytomegalovirus infection (CMV) is a fairly common infection that can be contracted by anyone, at any time in life. Once contracted, the virus remains in the host body throughout, and rarely causes any problems in those who are healthy. However, for pregnant women with a weak immune system, CMV is a major cause of concern as it gets passed on to the unborn baby, and can result in hearing loss, vision problems and developmental delays.
Taking small, everyday precautions are the best way to prevent these viral infections. These include:
- Maintaining general hygiene, and regularly washing hands with soap
- Being wary of meats – cooking them thoroughly, and avoiding undercooked meats like deli meat
- Avoiding unpasteurised or raw dairy products – soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert and Blue cheese
- Staying away from cat litter boxes that are a hotbed of diseases, along with rodents and other wild animals.
- Getting regular check-ups done and being up-to-date with all vaccinations. ‘
The Health Ministry of India understands the need of regular check-ups of pregnant women in rural and urban parts of the country, and has thus undertaken an initiative under NHM — Janani Service, which provides ambulances to pregnant women for scheduled check-ups , delivery and post-delivery check-ups, cost-free. The service can be availed by dialling 108 in any state of the country, which Ziqitza Healthcare Limited continues to provide in collaboration with NHM in multiple states through a network of 3000 ambulances.