As the weather starts to cool down, we are getting ready for flu season. And while nobody enjoys having the flu, pregnant women need to be especially careful.
So how does the flu impact pregnant women, and how can pregnant women protect themselves against it?
What is the flu?
The flu is a highly contagious respiratory sickness caused by influenza. These viruses work to infect the nose, throat, and in severe cases, the lungs. The flu can present mild to severe symptoms and can even lead to death. The flu shares some of the same symptoms as the common cold with signs of the sickness, including:
- fever or chills
- sore throat
- runny or blocked nose
- muscle or body aches
- vomiting and diarrhoea
Risks of the flu and pregnancy
It is very important that the flu is not the same as a cold and is in fact, much more dangerous and can spread quickly and easily from one person to another. Having the flu while pregnant can lead to serious complications such as pneumonia. Pregnant women who do contract the flu are at more risk of being hospitalised. Furthermore, the flu can be life-threatening to a developing baby as it increases the chance of significant problems, such as premature delivery.
Avoiding the flu
It is critical that pregnant women do all that is in their power to protect themselves from the flu. Precautions they should take include:
- Avoiding people who are sick, especially with the flu
- Maintain cleanliness and hygiene around the home
- Wash hands regular
- Get the flu shot
The best way to be protected by the flu is by getting vaccinated. Luckily, vaccinations for pregnant women are completely safe, and they’re free under Australia’s National Immunisation Program. It is important to remember that protecting yourself against the flu will not only protect you but your precious baby too.
If you get the flu…
If you are pregnant and you think you might have come down with the flu, it is important to see your doctor right away. Antiviral medication will most likely be prescribed and is most effective when given within 48 hours of the flu’s first appearance. While antiviral medication won’t cure the flu, it will relieve the severity of symptoms, reduce how long you are sick for and minimise the risk of serious complications. Other things you can do are:
- get plenty of sleep and rest
- keep warm and comfortable
- drink lots of water
- cover mouth when coughing or sneezing
- take paracetamol to relieve symptoms
If you need any further advice on pregnancy and the flu, it is important to contact an obstetrician as they will be able to tell you the best measures you can take for your body. If you have any questions, or would like to book an appointment, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Dr Bevan Brown is one of the most trusted obstetricians in Sydney and will be thrilled to give you complete and compassionate care in every way possible.