Columbia, TN – Pregnancy is a magical (if somewhat terrifying) time for most women. This is especially true for first-time moms who have never had to deal with fatigue, cravings, backaches, morning sickness, and the many other side effects of growing a new life. According to The Pregnancy Centers of Middle Tennessee, a non-profit pregnancy resource center with locations in Columbia and Spring Hill, pregnant women also have to think about their immune systems.
As if women did not have enough to deal with during pregnancy, the staff at the Columbia-based pregnancy resource center says that the immune system is compromised during pregnancy. Although this means more susceptibility to illnesses, including the flu and common cold, this is the body’s way of working around its natural inclination to attack foreign matter, including a fetus.
There are many different ways that immune system susceptibility can affect a woman during pregnancy. During the winter months, this means the likelihood of experiencing more colds, flu, and, in more recent years, instances of COVID-19. In lesser developed countries, pregnant women are more susceptible to malaria and other illnesses the United States typically doesn’t see. One bright spot for pregnant women here at the highest risk of STDs: the body is more resistant to HIV and some other viruses while pregnant.
Representatives from the pregnancy resource center explain that there are a few common sense ways that pregnant women can keep themselves healthy and fight off illnesses. A few things they hope pregnant women keep in mind include:
- Nutrition. The pregnant body needs a different level of nutrition than a nonpregnant body. And as much as eating a balanced diet is crucial throughout a person’s lifetime, it is even more so during pregnancy. The food that goes into the body supports or suppresses the immune system by providing or neglecting essential vitamins and minerals. Pregnant women are encouraged to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and significantly reduce their intake of sugars and refined carbohydrates.
- Vitamin intake. Vitamins are typically unnecessary throughout the majority of a person’s lifetime. However, as a developing fetus pulls vitamins and minerals from the body, prenatal vitamins can help keep the immune system stable. Representatives from the pregnancy resource center recommend that pregnant women speak to their OB/GYN, NP, or other healthcare provider about which vitamins are best for them.
- Rest. Pregnant women almost immediately feel fatigued as their body begins to build a new life. Unfortunately, many women in the Western world tend to ignore this important queue because of other obligations, such as work, socialization, and family. However, pregnant women should give their bodies plenty of rest. Anywhere between seven and nine hours of sleep each night is a good start. There may be times, especially toward the latter months of pregnancy, when it’s difficult to get comfortable, fall asleep, and stay that way. During this time, women should look for ways to relax in the evening, such as by taking a warm shower and sleeping with a supportive pregnancy pillow.
Finally, the pregnancy resource center recommends that women keep a humidifier and saline solutions handy for the times when colds and viruses creep in. These are safer alternatives to over-the-counter pharmaceuticals that can help relieve symptoms without negatively affecting a pregnancy.
The Pregnancy Centers of Middle Tennessee (PCOMT) is a duo of pregnancy resource centers located in Spring Hill and Columbia, Tennessee. Originally founded in 1994 as the Crisis Pregnancy Center Of Columbia, PCOMT offers pregnant women and their partners no-cost pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, post-abortion peer counseling, and more in a Christ-centered environment.
Pregnancy Centers of Middle Tennessee
2206 Spedale Court, Suite 4
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Study Champ journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.