“Survive and Thrive:” A Guide to Prenatal Infection Prevention

Certified Labor Doula and Postpartum Doula, Donna Delaney

Pregnancy is a miraculous journey filled with anticipation and excitement. Ensuring the health and well-being of both the expectant mother and the developing baby is paramount. Prenatal infection prevention plays a crucial role in safeguarding the future, as infections during pregnancy can have profound consequences.

Prenatal Infection Prevention Month is observed each February as a time to raise awareness about the ways to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases from a mother to a fetus.

Understanding Prenatal Infections

Prenatal Infectious Disease Prevention

Prenatal infections are caused by bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens that can affect the developing fetus.

Globally, in 2016, it was estimated that about 2.6 babies died within the first month of life, and approximately 700,00 die each year due to infectious disease. Although the United States has made significant progress in reducing the incidence of prenatal disease transmission, it still remains a threat. Due to the serious consequences for mother and baby, prenatal infection prevention is a critical component of the broader maternal and child health strategy to ensure that mothers and babies “survive and thrive.”

Common Prenatal Infections

  • Group B Strep

About 1 in 4 women carry this type of bacteria. 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 healthcare provider about how to protect your baby during labor. Often antibiotics will be adminsiterd during labor to prevent the spread to the baby.

  • Bacterial Vaginosis

Pregnant people with BV are at increased risk of preterm birth. Get tested if you have symptoms. Some experts also recommend testing pregnant people who have a history of a previous preterm birth.

  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV)

Reduce contact with saliva and urine from babies and young children. A woman who is infected with CMV can pass the virus to her developing baby during pregnancy.

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV)
  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV)
  • Human Papillomavirus Virus (HPV)

Some people that have HIV, hepatitis B, or an STD do not feel sick. Knowing if you have one of these diseases is important. If you do, talk to your healthcare provider about reducing the chance that your baby will become sick.

  • Listeria

Avoid unpasteurized milk and foods made from it. Avoid soft cheeses, such as feta, brie, and queso fresco. Unpasteurized products can contain harmful bacteria.

  • Toxoplasmosis

Do not touch or change dirty cat litter. Dirty cat litter might contain a harmful parasite.

  • Zika

Protect yourself from Zika virus. Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus during pregnancy or to her baby around the time of birth. Zika virus infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly.

These infections can lead to birth defects, developmental delays, and other complications.

Signs of Prenatal Infection

Signs of prenatal infection that can be detected during pregnancy include:

  • Decreased or no fetal movement after your 20th week
  • Frenzied fetal movement
  • Mother experiencing unexplained fever

Tips for Prevention

1. Regular Prenatal Care:

Engaging in regular prenatal check-ups is essential for monitoring the health of both the mother and the baby. Healthcare professionals can identify and address potential risks early on, providing guidance on preventive measures.

2. Vaccinations:

Ensuring that vaccinations are up-to-date is crucial before conception. Vaccines for rubella, influenza, and other preventable diseases help protect both the mother and the developing baby.

3. Hygiene Practices:

Simple hygiene practices, such as frequent handwashing, can significantly reduce the risk of infections. Avoiding contact with individuals who are sick and practicing safe food handling are essential habits for expectant mothers.

4. Safe Sexual Practices:

If sexually active, using barrier methods like condoms can help prevent sexually transmitted infections. Both partners should be aware of their sexual health status and undergo necessary screenings.

5. Healthy Lifestyle Choices:

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through proper nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate sleep can bolster the immune system, reducing the susceptibility to infections.

6. Avoiding High-Risk Environments:

Pregnant women should steer clear of environments where exposure to harmful substances or infectious agents is likely. This includes minimizing contact with certain animals and avoiding travel to regions with high disease prevalence.

A Brighter and Healthier Future

Prenatal infection prevention is a collective effort involving expectant parents and healthcare providers. By staying informed, adopting healthy practices, and seeking timely medical care, parents can significantly reduce the risk of infections during pregnancy. Safeguarding the health of the mother and the developing baby lays the foundation for a brighter and healthier future.

Orlando Doulas keeps you informed about this and other pertinent subjects to support your journey towards a safe and healthy pregnancy, birth, and baby.


  1. https://www.alabamapublichealth.gov/blog/2023/02/prenatal-infection-prevention.html#:~:text=International%20Prenatal%20Infection%20Prevention%20Month%3A%20%22Survive%20and%20Thrive%22,-Newsroom&text=%22Survive%20and%20thrive.%22%20That’s,a%20mother%20to%20a%20fetus.
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/infections.html
  3. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/bacterial-vaginosis-beyond-the-basics/print#:~:text=Although%20BV%20is%20not%20yet,%2Dgenital%20contact%2C%20and%20fingers.
  4. https://www.naccho.org/blog/articles/international-prenatal-infection-prevention-month-the-importance-of-maternal-immunization

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