Use of a barrier method of contraceptive (e.g. condom) can prevent transmission of some sexually transmitted infections during intercourse. Intravenous drug use and sexual intercourse with infected partners increase the risks of exposure to most of these infections. Pregnant women can be tested for many of the bacterial or viral infections described; however, effective treatment may not be available to protect the infant.
In some cases, the method of childbirth may impact the chance of passing an infection from mother to child. For instance, research has shown that delivering a baby by caesarian section over vaginal delivery reduces the risk of transmitting HIV from mother to child.
A woman's nutritional status may contribute to her ability to fight off infections, particularly in cases of malnutrition. A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients such as folic acid, calcium, iron, zinc, vitamin D, and the B vitamins is recommended for pregnant women. Mothers are recommended to eat approximately 300 additional calories day (above and beyond a normal nonpregnancy diet) to support the fetus's growth and development.
Cesarean section—Delivery of a baby through an incision in the mother's abdomen instead of through the vagina; also called a c-section, cesarean birth, or cesarean delivery.
Ectopic pregnancy—A pregnancy that develops outside of the mother's uterus, such as in the fallopian tube. Ectopic pregnancies often cause severe pain in the lower abdomen and are potentially life-threatening because of the massive blood loss that may occur as the developing embryo/fetus ruptures and damages the tissues in which it has implanted.
Encephalitis—Inflammation of the brain, usually caused by a virus. The inflammation may interfere with normal brain function and may cause seizures, sleepiness, confusion, personality changes, weakness in one or more parts of the body, and even coma.
Episiotomy—An incision made in the perineum (the area between the vulva and the anus) during labor to assist in delivery and to avoid abnormal tearing of the perineum.
Perinatal—Referring to the period of time surrounding an infant's birth, from the last two months of pregnancy through the first 28 days of life.
Pneumonia—An infection in which the lungs become inflamed. It can be caused by nearly any class of organism known to cause human infections, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
Altha Roberts Edgren, Teresa G. Odle, Stephanie Dionne Sherk, Thomson Gale, Gale, Detroit,