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.

The role of hormones during pregnancy

Hormones during pregnancy are some of the main causes for the physical changes. Each hormone released has a purpose for a specific stage in gestation. Hormonal fluctuation can also cause mood swings in the expectant mother.

The main hormones present during pregnancy are:
• Progesterone: stimulates tissue thickness in the uterus to prepare for the fertilized egg, allowing the baby to develop in the womb during the 9 months of pregnancy
• Human chorionic gonadotropin: it’s found in the mother’s bloodstream and stimulates the production of estrogen and progesterone. The presence of this hormone confirms a pregnancy
• Oxytocin: this hormone is in charge of delivery contractions and mother-child attachment
• Prolactin: stimulates the mammary glands in preparation for breastfeeding
• Estrogen: its higher during pregnancy, producing changes in your body, skin, hair and nails

You might find yourself feeling extra sensitive and receptive to other’s emotions and needs during pregnancy. Hormonal fluctuation generates a rollercoaster of emotions, so laughing or crying for no apparent reason could often happen. You might also be more forgetful during the day. However, experts believe that this is due to your being more attentive to your baby’s needs, so other things become irrelevant. Hormones play a big part in pregnancy. Knowing the purpose of each of them could help you understand your emotional reactions better.

Changes in women’s brain during pregnancy

Studies have shown that a woman’s brain changes during pregnancy. Each of these changes has a specific purpose. One of them is that the brain becomes smaller by approximately 7%, which could be due to structural changes or new neuronal connections. Studies show that the areas in charge of affection are activated, and the ones on judgment are deactivated. This is why mothers are less likely to judge their children.A lot of pregnant women feel more absent-minded during pregnancy. However, studies show that maternity stimulates intelligence; therefore, a woman who’s been pregnant experiences positive changes. According to experts, being absent-minded is a result of the expectant mother paying more attention to what she’s doing, and therefore is able to detect when she slips off.

Hormonal changes are pretty evident during pregnancy. The increase of the hormone progesterone lowers cortisol production, which protects the baby from being affected by the mother’s stress. On top of that, the increased levels of oxytocin help create a bond of attachment and trust between the mother and the baby. Oxytocin levels go up during birth to diminish pain, and during breastfeeding to provide milk to the baby.

If these changes are not enough, the mother’s alertness and senses such as smell and hearing are improved during and after pregnancy. This helps mothers distinguish their baby’s crying from others, or sense when their baby is in danger.

Each of these changes in the brain allows the mother to be able to raise and take better care of her baby. Attachment and connection between a mother and her baby start during pregnancy, and increases as the baby are born and growing.

How does relaxation affects the brain?

Some of the best ways to get great benefits for your health is through relaxation therapy. It doesn’t matter if you practice yoga or meditation, relaxing helps your organism get rid of tension and stress. The mind needs to get rid of over stimulation to ensure optimal functioning. Studies have confirmed that practicing relaxation is very beneficial physically and psychologically. Cardiac doctor Herbert Benson studied the effects of relaxation and identified the following benefits:1. Reduces tension and brings relief to muscular pain
2. Reduces blood pressure
3. Lowers the flow of stress-related hormones
4. Promotes deep breathing
5. Lowers cholesterol
6. Boosts self-confidence
7. Improves metabolism
8. Modifies your brainwaves

This and many more reasons show us why relaxing is so important during pregnancy. It doesn’t matter if you practice yoga, meditation, or any other sort of mental or physical exercise that brings peace. Remember that positive and negative emotions affect your developing baby, so try to find ways to reduce stress, negativity, and fear.

The benefits of a good night’s sleep

It’s completely normal to feel tired and with a lack of energy during pregnancy. This is partly due to your baby’s weight gain, as well as the constant need to pee, and symptoms of nausea and/or anxiety. All of these factors can disrupt your sleep, and make you feel even more tired during the day.

As we know, getting a good night’s sleep is key to your health. Now that you’re expecting, it’s really important that you get enough sleep so you can get all the benefits you need for your baby’s healthy development. Here’s a list of the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep during pregnancy:

• Mood improvement. Apart from feeling happy and positive, your mood will also help your baby’s development. Studies show that a negative mindset and depression of expectant mothers could be bad for the baby’s development
• Improves the delivery experience. Getting enough sleep helps one become healthier and therefore helps you feel prepared for delivery. Besides, being well rested will help you have better-exercising habits, which will help prepare your muscles for birth
• Improves your blood flow. The nutrients and oxygen that your baby needs are best distributed when you are well rested
• Benefits your baby. Your physical and mental health boosts your baby’s development. If you feel well rested and calm, so will your baby. Studies have found that the mother’s stress can take a toll on their babies

Don’t let other activities keep you from getting enough sleep. Remember, sleeping at least 8 hours a day is key to keep you and your baby in good health!

Coping with stress during pregnancy

When stress becomes overwhelming and begins to cause insomnia, depression, headaches, or anxiety, your and your baby’s health can be at risk. Learning how to cope with stress is easier than what you might think! There are several techniques that could make this process a lot easier. Once you learn to control your mood in stressful situations, you will be able to keep it up as a habit and get long-term benefits.

Here’s some advice on reducing stress during pregnancy:

• Getting a massage before bed helps ease muscular tension
• Sharing your concerns with other women who are going through the same situation could be really helpful
• Practicing your favorite hobby, be it reading, drawing, or attending a Pilates session could help you distract and feel better
• Listening to your favorite songs helps you unplug from reality for a little while
• Practicing breathing and relaxation exercises may bring peace and feelings of wellness
• Going to the movies or going for a stroll could help you forget any fear or worries you may have

Doing things that you like could help you decrease and even avoid stress during pregnancy. Remember, pregnancy should be a time to rest and enjoy! In case you’re pregnant and you’re going through a traumatic event, going to a professional might be the best choice, that way you may feel better and prevent prolonged stress from affecting your baby’s health.