Infections during pregnancy
During your pregnancy, you may be more at risk from certain infections, or infections which are usually harmless may be more serious. It is important you understand the risks and how to avoid them.
Guidance for pregnant women and information on what is happening in their regional unit during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak can be found on NI Maternity
While flu is a mild illness for most people, it can be very serious for pregnant women. Pregnant women are more likely to develop serious complications as a result of flu, and rarely even die. There are also risks to the baby, including miscarriage and premature labour.
Receiving the flu vaccine during pregnancy is the best way to protect yourself and your baby. The vaccine is regularly used for pregnant women. The vaccine is extremely safe to use in pregnancy for both mother and baby.
Sexually transmitted infections
As many as 70 per cent of women and 50 per cent of men who have an STI show no symptoms, so you may not know you have one. Many STIs, however, can affect your baby’s health during pregnancy and after the birth. If you have any reason to believe you have an STI, you should go for a check-up as soon as you can.
You can ask your GP or midwife, or go to a genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic, or if you are under 25, visit a Common Youth centre.
Find out what's available in your Health and Social Care (HSC) Trust area:
- Belfast HSC Trust - sexual health and HIV services
- Northern HSC Trust - sexual health service (GUM)
- South Eastern HSC Trust - sexual health service
- Southern HSC Trust - sexual health
- Western HSC Trust - sexual health services
For more information on sexually transmitted infections, visit;
Infections transmitted by animals
There are a number of infections spread by animals which can be harmful to you or your baby during pregnancy. It is important that you are aware of these infections, especially if you are in contact with animals such as household pets or farm animals.
Cat’s faeces can contain an organism which causes toxoplasmosis. Avoid emptying cat litter trays while you are pregnant. If no one else can do it, use disposable rubber gloves. Trays should be cleaned daily and filled with boiling water for five minutes.
Avoid close contact with sick cats and wear gloves when gardening, even if you don’t own a cat, in case the soil is contaminated with faeces.
Wash your hands and gloves after gardening. If you do come into contact with cat faeces, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly.
Lambs and sheep can be a source of an organism called Chlamydia psittaci, which is known to cause miscarriage in ewes. They also carry toxoplasma.
Avoid lambing or milking ewes and all contact with newborn lambs. If you experience flu-like symptoms after coming into contact with sheep, tell your doctor.
Research is ongoing to see if pigs can be a source of hepatitis E infection. This infection is dangerous in pregnant women, so avoid contact with pigs and pig faeces. There is no risk of hepatitis E infection from eating cooked pork products.
There are a number of other infections which can affect your pregnancy, including;
- hepatitis B
- hepatitis C
- slapped cheek syndrome
- group B streptococcus