It’s always worrying when there’s a contagious illness going around. It can be even more worrying if you’re in a high-risk group or are pregnant. Some viruses are more dangerous to pregnant women and their babies than to the general population. The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting sick while pregnant.
1. Practice Good Hygiene
The first step to take to avoid getting sick while pregnant is to make sure you’re washing your hands frequently. You have to wash them thoroughly and for at least 20 seconds. For information on the proper way t practice good hand hygiene, check the CDC’s guide on hand washing.
Other things to do include disinfecting commonly touched surfaces like counters, doorknobs, electronics, and light switches. Launder clothing, sheets, and towels frequently. Some doctors also recommend showering daily when there are contagious illnesses spreading.
2. Get Vaccinated
Vaccination is important at all stages of life, and there are some vaccines you should get during pregnancy. Pregnant women should get flu and Tdap vaccines. Consult this March of Dimes vaccination chart to find out what other immunizations you should get before, during, and after pregnancy.
3. Eat Well
The best defense against getting sick while pregnant is to be proactive about your overall health. When you’re pregnant, what you eat is important in keeping both you and your baby healthy. Eat whole foods including lean protein, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Make sure you follow any guidelines and restrictions your OB/GYN or other healthcare provider gives you.
4. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep is a critical part of your overall health. And as we’ve already said, being healthy in the first place is the best defense against getting sick (whether you’re pregnant or not). Lack of sleep can negatively affect your mental and physical health and weaken your immune system. When you’re sleep-deprived, your body secretes extra stress hormones.
5. Take Your Vitamins & Supplements
A healthy diet is the best way to get all the necessary nutrients you need to stay healthy. However, sometimes you need more of certain nutrients than you can get from foods. You should also take your prenatal vitamins and any other supplements your doctor recommends.
6. Try Not to Stress
Being stressed can make you feel run down and may even make you more likely to get sick. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), there is evidence that people under stress have weaker immune systems. Find ways to relax and take your mind off things. Meditation, yoga, reading, or listening to calming music can help you unwind.
7. Stay Active
Again, the best way to avoid catching an illness is to be the healthiest version of yourself. Along with following a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep, you should stay active. Not only will this help with your overall health, but there is evidence that it can help your immune system. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, exercise causes your white blood cells (WBCs) to circulate more rapidly, which may help fight illness sooner. Exercise also slows the release of stress hormones.
8. Avoid Sick People
If you know someone who is sick, avoid contact with them. This can be difficult if you already have children and one of them or your partner is sick and you have to care for them. If you can’t avoid it, take your hygiene routine up a notch. Wash your hands after contact with the sick person, disinfect surfaces more frequently, and follow all the tips above for self-care to keep yourself healthy.
9. Follow Public Health Guidelines
When there are widespread or highly contagious illnesses in an area, look for warnings and guidelines from public health organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), or the World Health Organization (WHO). These may include stay-at-home orders, travel restrictions, and recommendations on hygiene or protective clothing. Make sure you follow any recommendations and guidelines and stay home to avoid contact with others if needed.
The physicians, nurses, and medical staff at Raleigh OB/GYN offer a comprehensive list of gynecological and obstetric services to the women of the Raleigh, NC area. If you have questions or concerns about how to avoid getting sick while pregnant, call our office at (919) 876-8225 to make an appointment.
*If you do think you’ve caught a contagious illness, it’s important to contact your healthcare provider immediately. Make sure all providers know about your pregnancy before they treat you.