We all want to avoid catching the flu during flu season, but if you are pregnant, it is especially important to avoid contracting the flu.
If you contract the flu while pregnant, it can put both you and your child at risk for developing health complications. And since your immune system is weaker during pregnancy, it is even more important to protect yourself.
The flu can spread easily from person to person – it can spread in the air through coughing and sneezing, and it the germs that cause the flu can linger on door handles, phones, shopping cart handles, and other items touched regularly by multiple people.
The flu usually lasts about a week, but can be longer in pregnant women and children. Some studies have shown that getting the flu while pregnant can increase the risk of preterm labor and delivering low birth weight babies. Symptoms of the flu can be more severe in pregnant women, as well. The Center for Disease Control recommends that all pregnant women receive the flu shot.
The most common flu symptoms include:
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea that includes diarrhea or vomiting
- Loss of appetie
- Chills or fever
- Body aches
It is important to take the flu seriously, especially when pregnant. Take the following precautions, in addition to getting the flu shot, to avoid contracting the flu:
- Wash hands often, especially after touching object touched by others
- Avoid crowded places
- Stay away from anyone who has been sick, and ask sick friends and family members to help keep you healthy by staying away
- Eat a well-balanced diet, rich in necessary vitamins and minerals
- Avoid touching your face so you don’t spread germs from your hands to your nose and mouth
- Avoid sharing food and drink with others
Some pregnant women may wonder about the safety of the flu shot during pregnancy. However, the flu vaccine is completely safe for both pregnant women and their unborn babies. It does not contain a live virus, so it is not possible to contract the flu from the virus itself. Avoid the nasal spray or mist vaccine option because these do contain a live, although weak, virus. While the virus will offer needed protection to you, it will also provide extra protection for your baby, protecting them up to six months after birth.
If you believe you may have the flu, it is important to contact your doctor right away. Getting on the right medication as soon as possible can help reduce the risks and get you on the road to recovery right away.
Additional symptoms you should be on the lookout for include:
- Baby moving less than normal
- High fever that doesn’t go down after taking Tylenol
- Pressure or pain in your chest or abdomen
- Sudden dizziness
- Shortness of breath
- Worsening symptoms
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to contact your doctor right away.
If you have any questions or concerns about the flu or the flu vaccine, contact your doctor. If you need help finding a doctor during your pregnancy, contact our office so one of our advocates can help you find the resources you need – 863-393-6988. \lsdsemihid