Immune response during pregnancy
Through extensive research, some scientists now believe that the immune system isn’t suppressed during pregnancy as was previously thought. Instead they believe it actually adjusts and responds differently to infection and disease, and this response also changes with the stages of pregnancy.
Research has shown that the implantation of the egg in the womb lining creates an immune response, suggested through the presence of immune cells at the implantation site. The ‘burrowing’ of the egg into the womb lining creates inflammation, and a reaction from the body to repair, replace and remove cells from the area in order to create a successful pregnancy. It is believed that this process is in part to blame for the mother feeling tired and experiencing morning sickness in the first trimester.
As the mother moves into the second trimester her body, the foetus and the placenta become more ‘in tune’ with each other and work together, creating an anti inflammatory phase. As the pregnancy reaches the end of the third trimester a pro-inflammatory state returns in order to expel the baby and the placenta. It is this pro-inflammatory system, through the sending of immune cells to the womb, which encourages contractions to begin.
It was previously thought that the foetus relied solely on the mother’s immune system but it is now suggested that the foetus and placenta have their own immune response, and this further complicates the mother's own immune response.
There are a variety of factors to consider to ensure a strong immune system. Taking regular exercise, minimising stress and ensuring enough sleep will all contribute to an enhanced immune system.
Choice of food is of the utmost importance in supporting a healthy immune system and ensuring that it functions at its very best. In general this is a diet full of brightly coloured vegetables, well balanced protein, good fats, whole grains and fruits.
Proteins are essential for cell replication, healthy fatty acids help stimulate and modulate the immune system, and carbohydrates help provide the body with energy to fight infection. B vitamins play a major role in the production of infection fighting cells, whilst vitamin C, E and beta carotene are all used in the body’s fight against free radicals.
Source organic and locally grown foods when ever possible. Endless studies have shown that many widely used insecticides, herbicides and fungicides can alter the immune system and suppress normal immune system responses. These changes can reduce the body's normal resistance to bacterial, viral and other infections.