Pregnancy and the Flu

Whenever winter comes around, the threat of the flu becomes very real. The lowered body resistance stemming from the chilly temperature makes getting infected with the flu virus much more likely. The flu is pretty bad as it is, but when you are expecting, it takes on a whole new meaning.

How Does Pregnancy Affect the Flu

An attack of the flu is doubly hard on pregnant women, and for very simple reasons. If you are pregnant, you can expect to have more aches and have lower moods than the average flu victim. The high estrogen levels present during pregnancy do not do any favors when the flu hits. Estrogen causes the mucus membranes to dry out and swell making any congestion from a cold or a common allergy feel much worse. Also, as the pregnancy develops, the baby is pushed harder against the diaphragm, resulting in a decrease in lung capacity. In other words, it will be harder to breathe. The slightest respiratory ailment will cause massive difficulties.

Now, pregnancy does not make you more susceptible to the flu, but it does make it more likely that you will develop a complication once you do get infected. Pneumonia or bronchitis are usually the prime suspects. Again, while these complications are trouble enough by themselves, your pregnancy tends to make the situation more complicated.

You may not feel comfortable using medication that may have an effect on the child. In fact, most doctors would recommend that you stick to natural treatments instead, especially during the early stages of the pregnancy. Natural treatments include getting lots of bed rest, drinking lots of fluids, and giving a bowl of soup a day or maybe two. Drinking some tea with honey might also stem the growth of bacteria and reduce inflammation. Should it come to it though, there should be a number of medications that you can safely try just be sure to get the approval of your doctor first.

Stay Alert During Your Pregnancy

Even if you feel that you dont need a doctor, be sure to call one if:

    1. You have yellow or green nasal mucus
    2. If your “cold” lasts for more than a week
    3. If you have a high fever
    4. If you have diarrhea or vomiting for more than 36 hours
    5. If you have blood in your vomit or stool
    6. If you suffer from chills

Pregnancy and the Flu Shot

Also, be aware that almost all pregnant women are advised by medical professionals to get a flu shot. Studies have shown that pregnancy can increase the rates of severe disease and death. Pregnant women are nine times more likely to die from the flu than the average person. Thus, the need to administer the flu shot is paramount.

Since the flu shot contains only killed viruses, it poses no threat to the baby. The risk of side effects occurring is also very low. On the other hand, the live vaccine known as the LAIV should not be administered to pregnant women as it might hard the child.

Tylenol or acetaminophen is the only pain reliever that doctors recommend for use during pregnancy. Other similar drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen are not considered to be safe during pregnancy.