Pregnancy and the FLU
- December 16, 2021
It is that time of year again. Influenza, or the more commonly known flu, is very common in our communities, and it can be very serious. We want to give you some information about prevention and treatment for influenza. According to the CDC, getting the flu can cause serious problems when you are pregnant. Even if a pregnant woman is considered generally healthy, changes in immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy put pregnant women who get flu at a higher risk of developing serious illness. Pregnant women are also more apt to get severely ill from influenza and may even require hospitalization.

Learn about how to prevent catching the flu and your treatment options should you catch it. 

Prevention is Key!

  • Following good hand hygiene practices is one of the best prevention tools.
  • Getting your flu shot is a way to give protection to both you and your baby! It is safe to get your flu vaccine while pregnant. Talk to your doctor or OBGYN about getting the flu shot. If this does not happen, get it as soon after delivery as you can.

When you get your flu shot, your body will start producing antibodies that help protect you against the flu. It takes about two weeks for your body to make antibodies after getting a flu vaccine. These antibodies are also passed on to your growing baby. The antibodies that you give your baby will help protect them for several months, even after birth. Babies younger than six months are too young to get a flu vaccine so this is very helpful. Additional antibodies are passed to your baby in breastmilk. 

Treatment if You Catch it...

If you get flu symptoms (fever, cough, body aches headache), call your doctor immediately. Even if you have already had a flu shot, you may have a similar virus that can be treated with medication like Tamiflu. Your doctor can prescribe you medication that may be able to shorten the length of your illness and decrease the possibility of complications if given at the appropriate time - within 48 hours of symptom onset.

Safeguarding Your Family at Home

The flu is extremely dangerous for newborns, so we want to do everything we can to help you minimize the chance for you or your baby to get sick. Once you are home, be very vigilant that every person, every time uses proper hand hygiene. It is also a best to assess visitors for cold and flu symptoms. Even if visitors insist they have cold symptoms or recent onset of allergies, ask them to stay away until their health improves. 

Anyone with the following symptoms should be asked to refrain from visiting newborns:
  • Fever and/or chills
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhea (particularly impacts children)

To minimize the change of catching a cold or the flu, visitors must wash their hands using soap and water before and after visiting you and your baby. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be used only if there is no soap and water available.

Please call your physician or obstetrician with any questions.