Infectious diseases can hit close to home
There are certain things every pregnant woman must do – some are no-brainers and some are more complex. You do everything possible to protect your unborn baby – you give up alcohol, high heeled shoes, sit ups, and certain medicines. But what do you do about infectious diseases? The name alone – infectious disease – is intimidating, it makes you think of something you would get while visiting a remote jungle (something you would probably not do while pregnant). The truth is, infectious diseases are common and pose a risk to pregnant women and their unborn babies everywhere.
Your body is working overtime when you are pregnant. Your immune system is a little less strong than usual and you are more likely to pick up germs – which can quickly turn into an infectious disease that can affect you and your baby.
Luckily, there are immunizations to protect you and your baby from most infectious diseases.
The best time to get vaccinated is before you become pregnant. Make sure you are up to date on the necessary vaccines – if you have lost track, your doctor can do a blood test to check your level of immunity against infectious diseases. Once you have been vaccinated against a virus, your body will be resistant to the infectious disease. If you are immune then your baby will be protected.
Some of the major, more prevalent infectious diseases are:
Chicken pox, hepatitis, measles, mumps, polio, rubella, tetanus, and whooping cough (pertussis)
Before you become pregnant, you should be immunized against rubella, measles, mumps, and chicken pox. These can be very dangerous if contracted during pregnancy and can cause premature birth, birth defects or even fetal death. The Tdap vaccine will take care of tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis and should be given before pregnancy or after you give birth. After receiving any vaccine for infectious diseases, you should wait at least one month before trying to conceive.
The flu vaccine is one of the most publicized vaccines each year. If you are going to be pregnant during flu season (October to May) your doctor will advise a flu shot – it is safe during pregnancy and will protect you and your baby from this common infectious disease.
Exposure to infectious diseases is often a job related risk. If you are in the health care field – like a nurse, doctor, or if you work in a clinic, nursing home, doctor’s office, or hospital – you are obviously at greater risk at being exposed to many types of germs and infectious diseases. Also, working in a school or daycare or in and around animals increases your risk.
Anyone who is in close contact with you – your spouse, parents, other children – should also be vaccinated. Encourage everyone to wash their hands – especially during flu season to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Call Dr. Hessel today. She can go over your immunization history and help you make the best decisions to protect yourself and your baby from infectious diseases.