I am pregnant – how can I protect myself from this dangerous flu season?  

preventing the flu during pregnancy dr eule md obgyn

During pregnancy, your immune system can be a bit low making you susceptible to infections such as flu. The flu and other communicable diseases may affect the baby’s development.

 

How will I know I have the flu?

When you have flu, your fever shoots to around 102ºF (38ºC) or higher; here are some other symptoms you should watch out for:

  • Chills
  • A sore throat that worsens by the day
  • Body weakness and fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Sometimes the victim may become nauseous and even vomit. Some also diarrhea
  • Sneezing and coughing that can become severe

 

What causes the flu?

The flu is caused by influenza viruses, which constantly mutate, making them innumerable every season. This is the reason why there is a new flu vaccine each year.

How do I protect myself from the flu during pregnancy?

  • Get the flu shot
    The importance of getting the flu shot cannot be overstated. The shot not only protects the mother but also the child even after birth, especially if you get the shot during the last trimester. Research carried out on women indicates that getting the flu shot reduces the chances of getting the flu by 50% when the flu vaccine is properly matched with the circulating virus. There are often two options for the flu vaccine:  nasal spray and injection.  The nasal spray is not suitable for pregnant women, it is important that pregnant women get the vaccine through injection. Though it might not be 100% effective, it prevents severe cases of the flu that could harm the baby and mother.

    • There are a few side effects associated with the flu vaccine which include:
      • Head and muscle aches
      • Tenderness where the injection took place
  • Wash your hands more often
    Washing your hands regularly helps you avoid picking up the flu virus. Make use of warm soapy water to wash even between your fingers as well as under the fingernails. In the absence of warm soapy water, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used. In as much as your hands are clean, avoid touching your face as the virus can easily spread to the nose, eyes, and mouth.
  • Avoid crowded places
    Since your immunity is reduced with pregnancy, being in crowds only makes you more susceptible to getting contagious diseases including the flu. Wiping surfaces with disinfectant wipes while traveling can help avoid getting infected.
  • Healthy Diet choices
    Fruits and leafy vegetables are good antioxidants which boost your immunity. Being aware of your intake of fruits and leafy vegetables, and ensuring you drink adequate fluids will keep your body healthy and strong. Vitamin supplements can also help a pregnant woman fend off this flu, but it is recommended that you talk to your doctor to find out which ones are safe for use in this condition.
  • Disinfect your environment
    Wiping surfaces with a disinfectant especially if you are in close contact with someone has been sick can help avert the danger of getting infected. Close contact may be in the form of caring for an infected person, being near when they cough and sneeze or even sharing utensils.

What should I do if infected?

Should you experience a high and persistent fever, get in touch with a physician immediately. If present, antiviral drugs are prescribed. These treat the flu and keeps it from becoming full blown. Prompt treatment is advisable as infections can lead to pregnancy complications. Antiviral drugs should not harm your baby in any way, but under no circumstances should you self-medicate.

Every pregnant mother’s dream is to have a healthy baby and a relatively smooth pregnancy. Special care to stay healthy during the flu season if you are pregnant is mandatory to avoid complications. Contact us today and book your appointment, should you have any pregnancy queries or issues; we’re always happy to help.