Category Archives: My well-being

Toxoplasmosis, causes and prevention

The parasite toxoplasma gondii is responsible for toxoplasmosis, an infection that can penetrate the placenta, be transmitted to your baby, and therefore be dangerous during pregnancy. During the third trimester, this infection tends to be risky, as it’s when the baby has the greatest risk of becoming infected. So take precaution in order to prevent it, and take care of your baby’s health.

How does toxoplasmosis get transmitted?

Toxoplasmosis can be transmitted through infected, raw or poorly cooked meat, contaminated veggies, fruits, and water, or by touching your face after being in contact with contaminated soil or cat litter. Not everyone who becomes infected shows symptoms, however, you could notice some flu-like symptoms. If you suspect an infection make sure to visit your doctor.

What do I do if there’s a cat at home?

• Try to avoid direct contact with your cat’s litter box. Ask someone else to clean it up for you, it’s ideal if you don’t tamper with it while you’re pregnant
• Feed your cat well-cooked food and never give your cat undercooked meats
• Always wash your hands after being near your cat
• Don’t let your cat out where it can catch an infected prey

Safety recommendations that prevent infections:

• Wash your cooking utensils with hot water before preparing any dish
• Wash all of your fruits and veggies before cooking or eating them
• Wash your hands often, and wear gloves if you need to work in the garden
• Avoid touching your face, especially when cooking

Although the infection rate is very low, it’s best to be safe than sorry.

Labor is approaching, know the signs

Your body will begin to prepare for birth a few weeks before delivery. Even though it’s impossible to know the exact moment ahead of time (your doctor can only estimate dates), there are some signs that could help you figure out when you are going into labor. Sometimes these symptoms, though, can be present and just be a false alarm.

Here’s a list of some symptoms previous to delivery:

• Rising Braxton Hicks contractions. They could feel like period cramps and can range from mild to very painful. If they don’t increase in frequency and intensity, it could mean that you still have a few days or weeks before giving birth
• Your baby positions itself place near your pelvis. You could feel your baby position {him/herself} in your pelvis. This will help you breathe and it means your body and your baby are preparing for birth
• Dilation. Your cervix should dilate up to 10 cm in order to allow your baby’s passing through the birth canal
• Mucus discharge. You might begin noticing a thick and blood tinted discharge when the date is approaching or after having sex
• Your water breaks. The amniotic liquid leaks right before delivery, and it could come with contractions if they haven’t already started. If you notice your water breaking, go to your doctor or midwife immediately.

Sometimes these symptoms could start days before delivery or they could be a false alarm. However, you must be prepared if these symptoms show up since it could mean that your baby is on {his/her} way.

Vaginal candidiasis: causes and preventions

Vaginal candidiasis is an infection caused by the growth of the fungus Candida in your vaginal walls. Having a small amount of these Candida is completely natural. However, you can develop an infection if they multiply too much.

This infection is common during pregnancy, due to high levels of estrogen, and therefore a higher production of glycogen in the vagina (glycogen helps said fungus grow).

The most common symptoms of vaginal candidiasis are creamy vaginal discharge, burning sensation during urination, pain, redness, and itchiness around the vagina or the labia. If you experience any of these symptoms, go to your doctor to get screened. Talking to a professional before getting medication is really important since these symptoms could get mixed up with another kind of infections, such as sexually transmitted diseases.

This infection isn’t harmful to the baby. However, your baby could get it during birth. If {he/she} does, it can be treated seamlessly.

How can I prevent vaginal candidiasis?

• Avoid humidity in the genital area
• Wear cotton underwear
• Avoid wearing synthetic pants
• Try to sleep with no underwear on for better ventilation
• Wash your genitals with water and avoid vaginal douches

Sexually transmitted diseases during pregnancy

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are obtained through a virus of bacteria that is transmitted through anal, oral, or genital sex with an infected person. Some diseases such as Hepatitis B can also be transmitted through needles, razors, or contact with the infected person’s blood.

It’s important that you take special care during pregnancy to prevent STDs since some of them could pass through the placenta and infect your baby. Besides, STDs are dangerous and can cause preterm births, spontaneous abortions, or a urinary tract infection.

Here’s a list with some of the most common STDs:

• Chlamydia
• Hepatitis B
• Herpes
• Syphilis
• Gonorrhea
• HPV
• HIV/AIDS

Some STDs could show no symptoms at all, this is why you should go to your doctor as soon as possible if you suspect of a possible infection.

How can I steer clear from STDs?

It’s hard to avoid getting one if you or your partner have sex with other people or do intravenous drugs. You could use a condom to decrease the risks of getting them, but even so, you may get infected. This is why monogamous sexual relationships are the best way to reduce risks.

Urinary tract infection: risks during pregnancy

If not treated in time, a urinary infection could provoke an infection a bladder or kidney. Kidney infections, a type of urinary infection, could be harmful to your pregnancy and should, therefore, be timely detected and treated. Urine exams can detect these infections, so getting tested is very important during pregnancy.

These are some types of urinary infections:

• Bladder infection or cystitis, which is very common amongst young women who are sexually active
• Urinary tract infections are not serious if treated in time. Some symptoms might include a burning feeling when you urinate, pain or pressure in your back or lower abdomen, and cloudy or strange-smelling urine. Even if not commonly risky, Urinary tract infections can develop to Kidney infections, and then pose a higher threat to pregnant women, so, if you feel fever or chills, check with your doctor since it might be a sign of a Kidney infection.
• Kidney infection, not common during pregnancy. This infection could be serious since it raises the risk of a premature or low birth weight baby. Infection could also spread to the mother’s blood stream and take a toll on her health.

Urinary infections have similar symptoms: the constant need to pee, pain when having sex, burning sensation when peeing, and pain in the lower abdomen. These symptoms differ from the characteristic kidney infections, which are as follows: vomiting, nausea, lower back pain and high fever. If you present any of the above symptoms make sure to call your doctor.

Kangaroo care for premature babies

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 15 million babies are born pretermº every year. Being pre-term means that a baby is born before the 37th week of gestation. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US, pre-term babies are at greater risk for respiratory diseases, mental disabilities, amongst other complications. Even their lives are at stake due to lack of intervention, resources and intensive care provided in some health care facilities. However, research has shown that if babies are given physical contact several hours per day, their risks diminish.

Kangaroo care involves a mother holding her baby skin to skin in full contact with her body. The baby’s back must be covered with a blanket to keep {him/her} warm. Studies show that this method improves pre-term babies vital signs, development, and could even save their lives.

Why does it work? Studies suggest that a baby’s development and certain body systems, like heart rate, are sensitive to maternal contact. Therefore, when babies are pre-term, the development of these systems is disrupted. Kangaroo care is able to simulate the environment of the uterus, providing the warmth and maternal contact that babies are supposed to get when they’re developing in the womb.

Nowadays, we know how important it’s for a baby, especially a pre-term baby, to be given lots of physical contacts. Due to its great benefits, experts suggest that mothers practice Kangaroo care on all babies, pre-term or not.

Postpartum depression

It’s totally normal to feel sad, irritable, anxious or tearful a few days after delivery. If you feel like this, don’t worry! Tiredness, hormonal change, and stress can lead to feelings of sadness or emotional vulnerability, which usually disappear within a few days. However, in some cases, they may persist for longer. If so, you could be suffering from postpartum depression, so you should go with a specialist.

These are some symptoms of post-partum depression that new moms tend to have:

• Sadness and crying
• Trouble sleeping
• Anxiety
• Crankiness/irritability
• Physical pain
• Tiredness/fatigue
• Changes in eating habits
• Lack of focus
• Feelings of guilt/being afraid of hurting the baby

Assess your feelings as strong or low, if they last long or not, and whether you feel them frequently or scarcely to identify if you need professional support. In the meantime, the following activities could make you feel better: sharing your feelings, exercising, resting, taking a stroll, and eating healthy meals and snacks.

Environmental risk factors

Prenatal exposure to radiation, heavy metals, plastics, and pesticides could cause birth defects, or affect the physical and cognitive development of babies. Taking precautions and care towards these risks is important during pregnancy. However, you can’t avoid them entirely. Exposure to small doses will probably cause no harm to your baby, so no need to be alarmed. What’s important is that you’re aware of the risks and take precautions in order to protect your baby.

After the nuclear distaste at Chernobyl in 1986, radiation took a toll on people’s DNA and the cases of Down’s syndrome and leukemia increased in Germany and Sweden. Studies have also shown that exposure to radiation can affect a baby’s neural development, especially during the first and second trimester. It can also cause problems in the bones, retina, growth, etc.

Heavy metals such as mercury and lead can also be toxic and cause delayed growth or neural deficits. Mercury is found in most seafood and goes into the placenta if ingested. To avoid hazardous elements in your food it is very important to mindful of your diet and activities during pregnancy. Lead is in a lot of objects like pigments, cables, and even toys.

Plastic can also harm your baby’s lungs, kidneys, testicles, and liver. The most dangerous and possibly carcinogenic plastics are: #3 (PVC) used to soften plastic, #6 (PS) used on trays, coverings, insulation or other construction products, and #7 (BPA) usually used in baby and sport’s bottles.

Finally, pesticides can also alter your baby’s development. Every year over 2,000 chemicals is introduced without proper laboratory testing. It’s believed that these chemicals affect the development of several species, including ours. If you’re pregnant, it’s better to be safe than sorry and steer clear from farming fields.

The importance of the Group B Streptococcus study

Group B streptococcus (GBS) is a bacterium found in the digestive tract. Around 10 to 30% of people have GBS without being affected by it. However, this bacterium could harm your baby if transmitted during delivery. GBS can cause blood, lung, or brain infections. Luckily, early diagnosis and adequate treatment before birth can prevent your baby from getting GBS.

The GBS test is done a few weeks before delivery. If the result is positive, an antibiotic will be administrated. Furthermore, recommendations will be given to avoid your baby becoming infected with meningitis or septicemia. According to a published study by the American Society of Microbiology (ASM), this bacterium is harmful to babies, since it can mutate after being transmitted by the mother and disrupt the baby’s immune system.

It’s really important to get tested for GBS during the last few weeks of your pregnancy to know if you’re a carrier. Remember that early diagnosis is the best way to prevent risks and ensure your baby’s healthy development. Don’t forget to get tested for GBS a few weeks before your baby is born!

Possible risks of prenatal exposure to pesticides

Pesticide exposure during pregnancy could be associated with autism, a neurological disorder that affects 1 in every 100 children. Autism is characterized by an alteration in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behavior. That is, people with autism are intensely concentrated in their inner world and progressively lose contact with external reality. Health experts from the State of California researched this topic and found that a high amount of children who live near fields where pesticide are used have autism. The study suggests that prenatal exposure to pesticides is related to autism. Therefore, according to this study expectant mothers should be far away from fields where pesticides are used, as this may reduce the possibilities of having a child with autism. However, we know that autism has a genetic side to it; this is why it’s uncertain the effect that environmental factors have. More research and scientific evidence are needed to prove this connection.

Other studies have found connections between pesticides and neurological disorders, or other health issues such as asthma. It’s also believed that pesticides could be related to problems like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) as they take a toll on the baby’s brain, which is still developing. However, this possible correlation also needs more scientific evidence.

Even though this is just a possible connection, avoiding pesticides is recommended while you’re expecting a baby.