Protecting Expecting Mothers and Their Unborn Babies During Cold and Flu Season
- Posted on: Oct 19 2023
Pregnancy comes with its fair share of challenges, and cold and flu season only adds to those challenges. As the chill sets in and the viruses start circulating, it’s important for expecting mothers to shield themselves and their unborn babies from potential health risks.
During pregnancy, the body naturally suppresses parts of the immune system to protect the developing fetus. This makes pregnant individuals more susceptible to infections. Expecting mothers also experience changes in their lung capacity and heart function, making them more susceptible to certain infections that can turn a simple cold into something more severe.
There are precautions and preventative measures expecting mothers can take to stay healthy. One of the simplest and most effective strategies is frequent handwashing. Using soap and water, scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in public places or around sick individuals.
Getting the flu shot is highly recommended for pregnant individuals. If a pregnant person contracts the flu, there’s a heightened risk of complications like pneumonia as well as premature labor and delivery. The flu shot protects not only the mother from severe flu complications, but it also offers some protection to the unborn baby by transferring antibodies.
Reduce close contact with sick individuals. If possible, avoid crowded places, especially during flu peak times.
As always, eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise (as advised by the healthcare provider), and ensuring adequate sleep can bolster the immune system, helping the body fend off infections.
Family, friends, and coworkers of an expecting mother also play an important role in her well-being. Partners, family members, and other close contacts should get vaccinated against the flu to reduce the risk of transmission. They should always practice good hygiene, including hand washing and using a tissue or elbow when coughing or sneezing. Anyone who is feeling unwell or suspects that they might be sick should refrain from visiting a pregnant individual.
When illness does set in, early detection and prompt treatment helps to minimize the risk of complications. Watch out for common symptoms like fever, persistent cough, sore throat, body aches, fatigue and a runny or stuffy nose. If any of these symptoms appear, contact your healthcare provider immediately to receive guidance on monitoring and treating your illness. There are over-the-counter medications that are safe during pregnancy, but nothing should be taken without prior consultation with your provider.
Staying informed during cold and flu season is an easy way for expecting mothers and their families to keep everyone safe. Cold and flu viruses evolve, and so does the guidance on managing them. Keep updated on recommendations from trusted health organizations and consult with their OBGYN regularly.
Pregnancy, Birth & Baby: https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/cold-and-flu-during-pregnancy
March of Dimes: https://www.marchofdimes.org/find-support/topics/pregnancy/influenza-flu-and-pregnancy