immune system

How Pregnancy Impacts the Immune System

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The body changes substantially throughout the pregnancy process. It is completing a complex, beautiful, and natural process. Understanding how pregnancy impacts the immune system will help you to take the steps to protect yourself and your baby throughout the process. With the appearance of COVID-19, many pregnant women are concerned about the functionality of their immune system during their pregnancy. Here at My Family Birth Center, we are passionate about providing you with the services and guidance that you need to protect your health and the health of your baby. Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding how pregnancy impacts the immune system. 

The Immune System

The immune system is generally in a fluctuating state throughout pregnancy. It changes alongside the developments in the baby and the mother’s body. It must change in order to protect the health of the child through each stage of pregnancy. Consider a fetus: though some of the DNA comprising the fetus is from the mother, the other component is from the father, which essentially makes it a foreign substance. The body doesn’t always react well to foreign objects, such as transplants. This may result in the immune system attacking the foreign material. 

The function of the immune system that might otherwise attack the fetus is suppressed to prevent this from happening during pregnancy. Other functions of the immune system are enhanced in order to protect the health of the baby and mother. Ultimately, the mother may become more susceptible to certain infections and illnesses, while obtaining more protection from various other illnesses. 

May Be More Vulnerable to Infections and Illnesses

There are various infections and illnesses that pregnant women are more vulnerable to when their immune systems are somewhat suppressed during pregnancy. For example, pregnant women tend to be far more susceptible to the development of urinary tract infections, lung infections, and other illnesses. Understanding these different infections can help to protect yourself throughout your pregnancy. It is additionally important to ensure that you take appropriate steps to minimize the likelihood of developing an infection or illness. 

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections, commonly referred to as UTIs, can be incredibly uncomfortable. Though many women, and some men, regularly experience UTIs, they tend to be even more common in pregnant women. The bladder muscles tend to relax during pregnancy, which can cause urine to remain in the bladder for much too long. This allows harmful bacteria to grow and multiply, which often leads to the development of a urinary tract infection. When allowed to settle in, urinary tract infections can lead to complications with the kidneys and other issues. Even without medical complications, it is beneficial to take the steps to reduce the likelihood of them occurring, due to their extreme discomfort. 

Drinking lots of water can help to flush out harmful bacteria in the urinary tract. UTIs are incredibly uncomfortable. They often result in painful urination, urinary urgency, and several other symptoms. Our medical care professionals can help to provide you with more information regarding infection-fighting supplements that will be safe to take during pregnancy. 

Lung Infections

Lung infections, such as pneumonia, also tend to be more common in pregnant women. The lungs tend to contain more fluid throughout pregnancy. This forces the lungs to work harder, which ultimately makes them more susceptible to lung infections. When a pregnant woman catches a cold or an illness that impacts the lungs, they will be more likely to develop a lung infection. It is important to obtain the appropriate care to minimize the likelihood of infections.   

Other Changes with the Immune System

There are additional changes that the immune system impacts during pregnancy. For example, the symptoms from autoimmune diseases tend to change with pregnancy. Symptoms caused by multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis tend to lessen during pregnancy. However, the symptoms of systemic lupus erythematosus tend to worsen with the immune system changes during pregnancy. In most situations, the symptoms will return to their pre-pregnancy condition after birth. 

Tips for Preventing Infections

Since the immune system tends to change throughout pregnancy, it is important to be cautious and take the steps to prevent infections from arising. You need to regularly wash your hands with soap and water to prevent the infiltration of harmful bacteria or viruses. It is also important to refrain from consuming certain foods. For example, you should stay away from raw, or unpasteurized, dairy products when pregnant. You should also refrain from eating undercooked meats. You should not share beverages, utensils, or other things with other people while you are pregnant. 

Don’t change the cat litter while you’re pregnant, as this could put you in proximity to harmful materials. You should also stay away from rodents, whether they are wild or domesticated. Ensure that you practice safe sex while pregnant and obtain tests to ensure that you remain healthy. Make sure that all of your vaccinations are up to date when you are pregnant.  

Staying Healthy

There are many additional steps that you can take to help you stay healthy during pregnancy. It is important to obtain the appropriate prenatal care from a medical professional, like our experts at My Family Birth Center. Follow all of their recommendations when it comes to prenatal vitamins and sufficient practices. Take care to eat a healthy, balanced diet while you are pregnant and avoid potentially harmful foods. Your body is doing a miraculous thing, so it is important to provide your body with the fuel and rest it needs to stay in good condition. Ensure that you get enough sleep throughout your pregnancy. 

At My Family Birth Center, our medical professionals are dedicated to protecting your health and the health of your baby. In this particularly trying time, it is crucial to understand how your immune system will change and develop throughout your pregnancy. If you are concerned about an increased risk of infection or illness, you should contact our office for guidance regarding how to protect yourself and your baby during this time. To learn more about how your immune system changes throughout pregnancy, contact us at My Family Birth Center today!

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