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Health During Pregnancy

Important signs to watch for if you are pregnant [hide]
  • Bad cramps or stomach pains that don't go away
  • Bleeding or a trickle or gush of fluid from your vagina
  • Lower back pain/pressure or change in lower back pain
  • A feeling that the baby is pushing down
  • Contractions or change in the strength or number of them
  • An increase in the amount of vaginal discharge
  • Fever, chills, dizziness, vomiting or a bad headache
  • Blurry vision or spots before your eyes
  • Sudden or severe swelling of your feet, hand or face
  • A significant change in your baby's movements

Go to a hospital right away and contact your doctor/midwife if you have any of these symptoms!

Adapted with permission from:
Best Start: Ontario's Maternal Newborn and Early Child Development Resource Centre

Last Reviewed: April 2017

Medical Concerns

Infections and pregnancy

Pregnant lady in pink pants

Infections are typically caused by bacteria and viruses, that invade the human body and reproduce. Women who are pregnant need to be aware of some infections that could cause serious health risks to their unborn babies They should try to ensure that they are healthy and free of infection and that their immunizations are up to date before becoming pregnant.

Infectious diseases are easily spread. They are caused by organisms that can invade the human body and reproduce, which can cause harmful effects. Women who are pregnant need to be aware of some infections that could cause serious health risks to their unborn babies.

Infectious diseases can include:

Rubella

Rubella (German measles) is an infection that could cause serious birth defects when a woman is exposed to it early in pregnancy. Most women have either been immunized against rubella or have developed antibodies to protect against the disease. A vaccination is available for rubella, but should not be given while a woman is pregnant. It is best to receive this vaccine at least three months before becoming pregnant.  Women should talk with their doctor/midwife about rubella and its risks.

Group B Streptococcus (GBS)

GBS is bacteria that many women carry in their bodies, commonly in their vagina or rectum and sometimes in their bladder, kidneys or uterus. Many women may have these bacteria in their bodies and have no symptoms. To screen for GBS, health care providers swab the vagina and rectum with a swab, and/or take a urine sample at around the 36th week of pregnancy. If the screening is positive, women will be treated with antibiotics during labour. If left untreated the infection could pass to the unborn baby.


Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is an infection that is caused by a common parasite. The parasite that causes the infection is found in raw or undercooked meat, cat feces and garden soil. Most people who are infected have fatigue, fever, sore throat, achy joints or no symptoms at all.

To prevent this infection:

  • cook meat well
  • wash hands and cooking utensils well after handling raw meat
  • have someone else clean the cat litter box
  • use garden gloves when working out in the garden

Fifth Disease

Fifth disease is an infection caused by a virus called parvovirus B19. It is a common infection in children and appears as a red rash on the face, making the cheeks look like they have been slapped.

If you spend time with young children (i.e. daycare workers, teachers, parents of young children), you could become exposed to fifth disease; however, 50-80% of adults will have immunity, meaning they will not develop the disease again if they are exposed. If you become infected, you may have a fever, rash, or joint pain. Washing your hands often can help reduce your risk of developing fifth disease.

If a pregnant woman becomes infected with fifth disease in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, she can pass it on to her baby. It can cause the baby to develop anemia (a reduced ability of the blood to carry oxygen to the body). This happens in less than 5% of pregnant women who become infected.

If you’re in the first half of your pregnancy and think you have fifth disease, or have been in contact with someone diagnosed with fifth disease, talk to your doctor.

HIV & Aids

The human immune deficiency virus (HIV) causes diseases and infections that can harm a person’s immune system.  As people become sicker with HIV infections, they may become diagnosed with AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome).  This is a very serious, life-threatening illness.  Women are routinely being asked by their health-care providers about HIV testing during pregnancy. Although this test is not mandatory, it is highly recommended that every woman be tested for HIV when they are pregnant. An infected mother can pass the virus onto her baby during pregnancy, delivery, or while breastfeeding.  If a pregnant woman is found to be HIV positive, there are a number of ways that the risk of giving the infection to the baby can be reduced.

Other Sexually Transmitted Infections

Sexually transmitted infections include:

  • Gonorrhea
  • Chlamydia
  • Syphilis
  • Herpes
  • Yeast Infections
  • HPV
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C

Most sexually transmitted infections (STI's) are routinely screened for during pregnancy. If STI's are left untreated, they could cause serious health problems for mom and baby. It is very important that women tell their doctor/midwife if they think that they may have been exposed to an STI while pregnant. It is also important that pregnant women continue to practise safer sex.


For more detailed information about infectious diseases and medications:

Region of Peel-Public Health
905-799-7700
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216

Motherisk
416-813-6780



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Revised: Tuesday June 27 2017

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