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How can I prevent infections during pregnancy?

Here’s how to prevent infections and keep your unborn baby safe:

1. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially when . . .

  • Using the bathroom
  • Touching raw meat, raw eggs or unwashed vegetables
  • Preparing food and eating
  • Gardening or touching dirt or soil
  • Handling pets
  • Being around people who are sick
  • Getting saliva (spit) on your hands
  • Caring for and playing with children
  • Changing diapers

If soap and running water are not available, use alcohol-based hand gel.

2. Do not share forks, cups, and food with young children. Wash your hands often when around children. Their saliva and urine might contain a virus. It is likely harmless to them, but it can be dangerous for you and your unborn baby.

3. Cook meat until well done. The juices should run clear and there should be no pink inside. Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot.

4. Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and foods made from it. Do not eat soft cheeses such as feta, brie, and queso fresco unless their labels say they are pasteurized.

5. Do not touch or change dirty cat litter. If you must change the litter yourself, be sure to wear gloves and wash your hands afterwards.

6. Stay away from rodents and their droppings. Have a pest control professional get rid of pests in or around your home. If you have a pet rodent, have someone else care for it until after your baby arrives.

7. Get tested for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as HIV and hepatitis B, and protect yourself from them. 

8. Talk to your doctor about vaccinations (shots). Some are recommended before you become pregnant, during pregnancy, or right after delivery. 

9. Avoid people who have an infection. Stay away from people who you know have infections, such as chickenpox or rubella, if you have not yet had it yourself or did not have the vaccine before pregnancy.

10. Ask your doctor about group B strep. About 1 in 4 women carry this type of bacteria, but do not feel sick. An easy swab test near the end of pregnancy will show if you have this type of bacteria. If you do have group B strep, talk to your doctor about how to protect your baby during labor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.