Here Are 5 Things You Should Know About STIs and Your Pregnancy
Having recently had a scare with my first child, I have learned a lot about what STIs can mean for a pregnancy. To boil it down to one essential element, they’re dangerous. I was actually very lucky to be able to get pregnant at all, as many STIs can make you infertile – but once you do get pregnant, there are a lot more risks to think about. Here are the most important things everyone should know before getting involved in unsafe sex.
1. You will be facing stigma
Let’s just get this out of the way first: people are going to think less of you when you have to admit that you have an STI and it is affecting your baby. They’ll think that you are an unfit mother, that you sleep around a lot, and that you are generally the trash of society. That’s okay. You don’t need to think about anyone else’s reaction anymore – you need to look out for your baby. I was reluctant at first to seek help because I didn’t want to be judged, but that hesitation put my son’s life at risk.
2. You need to get tested ASAP
If you have engaged in unsafe sex and you get pregnant, you absolutely need to get tested for as many STIs as possible. You can actually order tests and find your results online, so you can be sure that you don’t have anything without having to go to a clinic. Once your results do come back positive, it’s time to take action.
3. The quicker you act, the better
With all STIs, the secret to fighting them is acting quickly. Many infections can do damage to the baby while you are pregnant, such as gonorrhoea, chlamydia, and syphilis. They can even cause you to have a miscarriage. I was lucky enough to avoid that, but someone who was attending the clinic at the same time as me was not so lucky. I found out that she had lost her baby because she didn’t start treatment early enough. Get yourself in for treatment as soon as possible, and look into vaccines – Hepatitis B, for example, can be vaccinated for so your newborn doesn’t get sick.
4. Childbirth is the riskiest moment
All STIs have a higher chance of infecting your baby during childbirth. There are lots of things you can do to lower those chances. Having treatment yourself is very important, and you will also want to think about taking extra supplements to boost your baby’s growing immune system. You need to give birth in a sterile environment in a hospital with doctors and nurses on hand who know how to minimise the risks. This is so essential, so even if money is tight, prioritise treatment over everything.
5. You might have to put your baby first
If you come down with HPV, you need to put your baby first. The mother can’t be treated for genital warts during pregnancy, which means you have to wait until after the birth to start (or restart) your treatment. This may mean an uncomfortable nine months, but it will be worth it when your baby is born healthy. Sadly, in the rare case that your baby is infected with HPV during birth, it may be a condition which they cannot be cured of, as lesions will continuously grow inside their throat.
There’s a lot to be scared of when you have an STI and you’re pregnant, but I found that panicking does nothing. Treatment is the only way to move forward and have a chance of a healthy baby.