As the temperature begins to drop and we move into the peak of flu season, it is important to be aware of the additional risks the flu carries for pregnant women and their babies. Changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy can make it more difficult to fight off infections and can increase your risk of flu complications such as preterm labor and preterm birth. Preventing the flu is essential to prenatal care.
Protect yourself and your baby from the flu. Here’s how:
Get the flu shot. Vaccination is the best form of protection against the flu. Pregnant moms can get the flu shot during any trimester of pregnancy; however, the nasal mist vaccine is not recommended. It is important to note that infants cannot get a flu vaccine until they are six months old. By getting the flu shot while pregnant, moms can transfer protective antibodies to their baby to protect them.
Don’t ignore symptoms. If you get sick with flu-like symptoms, call your doctor right away. Having a fever caused by flu infection or other infections early in pregnancy can lead to hospitalization and potential birth defects in the baby.
Get Zzz’s and H20. You need plenty of rest and water when you’re pregnant. Staying well rested and hydrated are two easy ways to fight off the flu.
Wash your hands. Washing your hands frequently can help fight off infection. Use proper hand washing techniques to reduce the spread of these germs.
Take the right meds. Treat any fever right away. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the recommended treatment for fever when you’re pregnant. Your doctor will decide whether you need antiviral drugs that fight the flu by keeping the germs from growing in your body.