The woman's body undergoes many hormonal changes during pregnancy. She has to be extra careful about her personal hygiene. A pregnant woman sweats more and has more vaginal discharge than a non-pregnant woman (due to change in hormonal mileu) and so she tends to be more vulnerable to infections by germs present in the environment. Of all infections, the urinary tract infection is the commonest in a pregnant lady.
Some guidelines which should be followed to maintain health and hygiene during pregnancy are:-
Handwashing with soap before preparing food, eating and after going to the toilet.
Taking regular bath and washing the genital areas with water. Douching with chemical soaps should not be done.
She should wear cotton undergarments and avoid tight pants and jeans. Cotton undergarments and loose clothing maintains air circulation between the clothing and the skin. The undergarments should be changed at least twice a day.
Vagina doesn't need any maintenence as it is a self cleaning organ, so washing it with plain water will suffice. Always remember to dry the private area by patting it with a clean towel as moisture may cause fungal and bacterial growth.
Apply lotion or cream immediately after bathing on the whole body to sooth and soften the skin.
Open defecation are associated with elevated risk of adverse birth outcomes in rural India. Pregnant women who defecate in the open have a significantly greater risk of preterm births. Poor sanitation can promote hookworm infection, causing maternal anemia. 'WASH' practice, i.e, the three disciplines Water access, Sanitation and Hygiene, commonly referred to as WASH can virtually eliminate waterborne diseases.
During the final months of pregnancy, the uterus enlarges due to the baby's growth. This may give rise to episodes of urine leak. In this case a panty liner should be worn and it should be changed every 4-5 hours, without the uncomfortable feeling.
It is advisable to trim the pubic hair over waxing since the intimate area is already sensitive during pregnancy and cuts down the chances of injury and allergic reactions.
If there is odour or unpleasantness from the intimate area, it is best to consult an Ob/Gyn on an urgent basis.
Dental hygiene is very important. During pregnancy there is swelling and increased sensitivity in gum tissue due to the increase in estrogen level. There is pain and frequent bleeding due to this. Add to it, the elevated levels of progesterone that come with pregnancy, it becomes the perfect breeding ground for the bacteria present in plaque, which can cause gingivitis. So to avoid plaque build up, thoroughly clean the teeth and gums twice a day with a soft brush and floss once a day. Dental disease can increase the rate of certain pregnancy complications.
It is good to avoid sweets such as caramels, hard candies, sticky foods and soft drinks. If sweets etc. are taken, it is wise to properly rinse the mouth with water. Sugar buildup in the mouth, even for a few hours can contribute to tooth decay.
That's it for the day!
DR. SHOBHASMITA BORTHAKUR
SENIOR MEDICAL OFFICER (O&G)
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