Flu season is upon us. Did you know that the flu can cause complications for pregnant women?
Abigail Holbrook, DO, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Mercy Health – East Obstetrics and Gynecology, answers some frequently asked questions about the flu and pregnancy.
Is there a problem with getting a flu shot if you’re pregnant?
“Absolutely not. We recommend that all women get their flu shot in pregnancy regardless of the trimester. Flu and pregnancy can actually be a really serious thing. It can make you end up in the hospital or you can get pneumonia, so we recommend that all pregnant women get the flu shot.”
If I’m pregnant and I get the flu, does the baby have the flu?
“No, the baby does not have the flu. However, the fever that you can get along with the flu can be dangerous to the baby.”
Are you more susceptible to getting the flu when you’re pregnant?
“Yes, absolutely. Because you are growing this tiny baby, your immune system is a little bit compromised. Its defenses are down, which can make you more susceptible to getting sick.”
The ways to prevent the flu include washing your hands or avoiding people who are sick. Is there anything you should do above and beyond those things if you’re pregnant?
“You should just stick to the usual practices of hand hygiene, staying inside while sick, getting your flu shot, and limiting your contact with other sick people. Also, with the COVID-19 pandemic, you should be wearing face masks in public and practice social distancing.”
Are there any medications for flu treatment you should avoid if you’re pregnant?
“Of course, there are always things to avoid. Really, the shorter list is what you should take when you’re pregnant. For flu-like symptoms, we give you an anti-viral medication. Otherwise you can do a saline nasal spray, most antihistamines like Benadryl, Tylenol Cold and Sinus, Vicks VapoRub, cough drops, Mucinex, and Sudafed. Of course, if you have any questions about medication, please feel free to your provider. If you call your obstetrician, we will probably do a flu swab and then give you treatment if it’s positive.”
Is there anything a partner can do to help keep you comfortable and happy?
“Doing the laundry and the dishes is really helpful. But, more seriously, your partner needs to get their flu shot so that you’re not at an increased risk of getting sick if they get sick. If they’re smokers, they need to smoke outside or preferably quit while you’re pregnant. The smoke can make you more susceptible to infection.”
If you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, which may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat or body aches, you should call your primary care provider’s office. You may be encouraged to complete a virtual visit.