Hormonal changes from pregnancy can throw your immune system out of whack, and you can be struck with an infection any time from fertilization to delivery. Some are easy to diagnose, while others are asymptomatic, so your healthcare provider will probably screen you often. A few common ones are urinary tract infections, yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis, and Group B strep. You are also susceptible to cold, cough, and flu just as much as you were before pregnancy.
What causes it?
UTIs are caused by pressure on the bladder from your uterus, which doesn’t allow the bladder to empty completely and leaves a buildup of stagnant urine. High levels of estrogen and progesterone make you more susceptible to a variety of vaginal infections. Pregnancy doesn’t make you more susceptible to Group B strep than you would be before or after, but it is particularly harmful to babies since you can pass it on when you deliver. Overall, your immune system is hindered when you’re pregnant so that you don’t fight off the newest addition to your body!
If you want to stay ahead of the game, you can be vaccinated before getting pregnant for certain infections. One of the best defenses against getting sick is simply keeping good hygiene and making sure everything you eat is as safe as possible. Most infections have simple treatments and should go away in a few days, and your healthcare provider can give you antibiotics that are safe to take with Baby in tow. However, if infections occur and return with great frequency, there may be a greater issue at hand, so you should definitely let your healthcare provider know if this is the case.
- Gil Mor, Ingrid Cardenas. “The Immune System in Pregnancy: A Unique Complexity.” Am J Reprod Immunol. 63(6): 425-433. Web. 6/10/2015.
- “Infections and Pregnancy.” U.S National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus, n.d. Web.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Yeast Infection (Vaginal).” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 9/18/2015. Web.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Urinary tract infection (UTI).” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 7/23/2015. Web.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Group B strep disease.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 4/26/2016. Web.