What Birthmothers Need to Know About Pregnancy and the Flu

Woman having flu

With flu season on the horizon, now is the time to learn about the virus and what it may mean for your pregnancy. Not only do you need to care for yourself, but you also need to care for your soon-to-be baby. If you’re not sure how the flu is different during pregnancy, take a look at these questions.


How Can the Flu Impact Pregnancy?

While most healthy adults recover from the flu within a week (or sometimes slightly longer), pregnancy may make it more difficult to get over the illness. This can result in the increased risk for complications, such as pneumonia.


Along with a secondary infection or severe symptoms, the flu can have negative effects for your baby. It may increase the likelihood of preterm labor, premature birth, or even some types of birth defects.


While the flu can cause serious problems or complications during pregnancy, you can take steps to reduce your chance of getting sick. Read on for more information on how to protect yourself and your baby during flu season.


Do Pregnant Women Need the Flu Vaccine?

The flu vaccine is an easy way to prevent the flu and reduce the risks. Even though you need to speak to a doctor or other medical provider before taking any medication or getting any type of vaccination during pregnancy, the flu shot is typically recommended.


According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flu vaccine can reduce the risk of developing the illness by anywhere from 40 to 60 percent. The actual percentage varies by year and vaccine. Each year, somewhat different strains of the flu spread into the population more than others. Researchers develop a vaccine that matches these strains and may vary in effectiveness.


Not only can the flu vaccine make it less likely you’ll get the illness, but it can also decrease the severity of the symptoms if you do still get sick. While you can still develop complications, the vaccine can reduce the risks to both you and your unborn baby.


Do Other Ways Exist to Reduce the Risks During Pregnancy?

Even though the flu vaccine is a top way to stop the spread of the disease, it isn’t the only option. Along with the vaccine, stay away from sick people. If someone in your home has the flu, sleep in another room; don’t share food, beverages, utensils, or a toothbrush; and stay a safe distance away — especially if the household member actively coughs or sneezes.


Respiratory droplets released when coughing, sneezing, or talking can spread up to six feet away, according to the CDC. The flu virus can also live on hard surfaces. Wash your hands often, and avoid touching your face.


What Happens If a Pregnant Woman Gets the Flu?

If you do get sick, contact your medical provider as soon as possible. The flu requires a diagnosis from a professional. Some of the symptoms, such as headache, sore throat, or a cough, are similar to what you would experience with a cold. Unlike the flu, the cold is typically less severe and may not come with the same risks.


If you feel more tired than usual or have the chills, a fever, headache, stuffy or runny nose, and body aches, you might have the flu. Prompt medical care can help you to heal in less time and may make you more comfortable as you recover. If you aren’t sure where to get care or how to pay for it, talk to your counselor or an adoption specialist.


Do you need assistance with the adoption process? Contact Arizona Adoption Help for more information.