Pregnancy Week by Week : Week 10 (part 3) - Chicken Pox during Pregnancy, Brain Builders

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8. Chicken Pox during Pregnancy

Did you have chicken pox when you were a child? Ninety percent of women today are immune to chicken pox. If you didn’t have chicken pox, you may be one of the 1 in 2000 women who will develop it during pregnancy. Chicken pox is more serious during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. If you get it during the third trimester, it could affect baby’s brain development.

Effects of Infections on Your Baby

Some infections and illnesses a woman contracts can affect her baby’s development. The chart below cites a type of infection or disease and the effects each may have on a developing baby.



Effects on Fetus

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) microcephaly, brain damage, hearing loss
Rubella (German measles) cataracts, deafness, heart lesions, can involve all organs
Syphilis fetal death, skin defects
Toxoplasmosis possible effects on all organs
Varicella possible effects on all organs

Chicken pox usually affects kids; only 2% of all cases occur in the 15-to-49 age group. The CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians all recommend healthy children age 1 year and older receive the chicken-pox vaccine; it is usually given at 12 to 18 months of age.

If you get chicken pox during pregnancy, take good care of yourself. About 15% of those who get chicken pox also develop a form of pneumonia, which can be very serious for a pregnant woman. If you get chicken pox 5 days before or 2 days after delivery, baby can also develop a severe chicken-pox infection.

If you’re exposed to chicken pox, contact your healthcare provider immediately! A pregnant woman should receive varicella-zoster immune globulin (VZIG). If you receive it within 72 hours of exposure, it can help prevent infection or lessen symptoms. If you do get chicken pox, you will probably be treated with acyclovir.

9. Your Nutrition

Pregnancy increases your protein needs. It’s important for you and baby. Try to eat 6 ounces of protein each day during the first trimester and 8 ounces a day during the second and third trimesters. Don’t eat too much protein; it should only make up about 15% of your total calorie intake.

Many protein sources are high in fat. If you need to watch your calories, choose low-fat protein sources. Some protein foods you may choose, and their serving sizes, include the following:

• chickpeas (garbanzo beans)—1 cup

• cheese, mozzarella—1 ounce

• chicken, roasted, skinless—½ breast (about 4 ounces)

• eggs—1

• hamburger, broiled, lean—3½ ounces

• milk—8 ounces

• peanut butter—2 tablespoons

• tuna, canned in water—3 ounces

• yogurt—8 ounces

When you eat eggs or dairy products for protein, be sure to add a complementary plant protein source for a complete protein. Rice and beans, tofu and sesame seeds or green beans with almonds are good choices. If eating protein makes you ill, look for a carbohydrate food (like crackers, cereal, pretzels) that contains protein.

10. Brain Builders

Choline and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can help build baby’s brain cells. Choline is found in milk, egg yolks, chicken liver, wheat germ, cod, cooked broccoli, peanuts and peanut butter, whole-wheat bread and beef. You need at least 450mg of choline a day during pregnancy. DHA is found in fish, egg yolks, poultry, meat, canola oil, walnuts and wheat germ.

Stay Healthy!

Studies suggest eating 2 cups of fresh fruit a day may help reduce your risk of getting a cold or the flu by nearly 35%. Fresh fruit helps your body increase virus-fighting cells found in the throat and nose. Bright-colored fruit is your best bet, such as oranges, kiwi, red grapes, strawberries and pineapple. If you do get a cold, eating nutrient-rich foods may help your body produce more white blood cells to help fight it. Eat ½ cup pineapple or ½ cup sweet potatoes to increase your resistance.

Some pregnancy nutrition bars contain DHA; others have added vitamins and minerals. If you eat a variety of foods that contain choline and DHA during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, you can help your baby obtain important nutrients.

11. You Need to Gain Weight

You should be gaining weight slowly; it can be harmful to your baby if you don’t. To an extent, your weight gain lets your healthcare provider know how you’re doing.

Pregnancy is not a time to experiment with different diets or cut down on calories. However, this doesn’t mean you have the go-ahead to eat anything you want, any time you want. Exercise and a proper nutrition plan, without junk food, will help you manage your weight. Be smart about food choices.

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