Getting the flu during your pregnancy should never be taken lightly. Research repeatedly finds that the complications of the flu are more severe among pregnant women, which makes taking preventative measures every flu season even more important for expecting moms.
“Being pregnant doesn’t mean that you will catch the flu easier, but that you will get more critically ill,” says Judith Gurdian, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist at Capital Women’s Care. “The flu shot is a pregnant woman’s best defense. It’s safe during all trimesters, and can even pass some benefits to the baby in utero, helping reduce his or her chances of getting the flu after birth.”
Looking to stay healthy during your pregnancy? Keep these three tips in mind.
Get the Flu Shot
It bears repeating: The flu shot is a safe and effective way for pregnant women to protect themselves during flu season and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to recommend pregnant women get their flu shot. If you have questions about the flu shot and its safety during pregnancy, please talk to your doctor. She or he can provide reliable answers to your questions.
Practice good hand hygiene
Wash your hands frequently during flu season, and be sure to follow the proper hand washing steps. Hand washing may not sound complicated, but if you don’t wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, you can still carry and spread germs. Be sure to encourage family and friends to wash their hands after work, school, anytime they return home from an errand, before eating or preparing food.
Avoid contact with others you know are sick, and ask people with a cough or cold symptoms to stay away. Clean and disinfect surfaces if you are concerned about germs in your home or at work.
Tell your doctor right away if you are sick
Pregnant women can take anti-viral medicines to lessen the severity of flu symptoms and reduce their risk of serious complications, including hospitalization.
“If you think you have the flu, it is not time to tough it out,” advises Dr. Gurdian. “Contact your doctor right away so you can be seen, tested and treated for the flu.”