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How Pregnancy Affects The Immune System

Pregnant woman sneezing.

We might call it an old wives tale, but scientists used to think a woman’s immune system became weaker when she was pregnant. We have learned that is not exactly the case. Sometimes, it can actually get stronger. With this relatively new news let’s review how we now know pregnancy affects the immune system.

Increase In T-Cells

Researchers have found that in the first 15 weeks of pregnancy a woman’s immune system is quite strong. 

Some studies even show an increase in T-cells, or white blood cells, which are responsible for other parts of a woman’s immune system. T-cells and Killer T-cells are two types that help to protect a woman’s body during pregnancy. Pregnancy increases the growth of these T-cells.

Then There Are Colds And The Flu

So if a woman’s immune system gets better during pregnancy, why does the common cold or the flu hit her so hard? Since it was always thought a woman’s immune system was weaker, that seemed to explain it, but not so fast.

Immunity changes as it needs to, especially during pregnancy. At times your immune system will lower and at other times it will strengthen. Yes, a pregnant woman can become susceptible to the flu and colds, but this is actually a good thing. If your immune system didn’t become a bit lower, your body would attack your growing baby as an invader. 

This fluctuating immunity follows a precise pattern in all normal pregnancies. As noted above, pregnancy can lower your immune system and then strengthen it as needed. What a miracle body we have!

How To Boost Immunity When Pregnant

There are ways you can help your immune system get stronger to protect you and your growing baby.

Some of these include the following:

  • Eat a healthy diet of lean protein, plus vegetables and fruits. Keep sugar and carbs to a minimum. If you do become ill, this will help to speed up recovery.
  • Always drink water, and more water. It helps your immune system to run effectively.
  • Take your prenatal vitamins. South Shore Women’s Health can help you choose the ones best for you.
  • Get a good night’s sleep as often as possible.
  • Use humidifiers to keep your nasal passages moist. Keep one in the bedroom and one in another room where you spend most of your day.

Contact South Shore Women’s Health at one of our locations with any questions of concerns about your own pregnancy and how your immune system is reacting both negatively or positively.

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