Pregnant women are especially at risk of getting severely sick from the flu virus even if they are generally healthy. This is due to changes in the immune system and, heart and lung functions during pregnancy, in which catching the flu can lead to hospitalization.
The best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu shot.
“The flu vaccine is safe and universally recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding women and can be received any time during pregnancy,” says Dr. Chelsea Elwood, reproductive infectious diseases specialist, BC Women’s Hospital + Health Centre.
Expectant and new moms can also protect their children by getting the flu shot. Babies under six months are too young to get the flu shot, but antibodies produced by mom two weeks after the flu shot can be passed on to protect the baby while in the womb or through breast milk.
Not only is it important for moms and moms-to-be to get vaccinated, but everyone who is around and cares for a newborn or young children should also get the flu shot. The flu shot is free for individuals mentioned above who are at risk of getting seriously ill from the virus and household members of those individuals. If you are a patient or visitor to BC Women’s and BC Children’s hospitals, you can get immunized at the Family Immunization Clinic or at your community clinic.
The flu is highly contagious and the virus can spread from surfaces up to 24 hours after exposure. It is recommended to practice regular handwashing, avoid people who are sick and breastfeeding can also help protect babies from infections.
- Fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose
- Body aches, headache, chills, fatigue
- Some experience vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)
If you show symptoms of the flu, call and see your doctor right away and let them know why you are coming. Treatment should begin as soon as possible, however prevention is key with vaccination. Anitviral drugs, which are safe in pregnancy, are available for pregnant women to treat the flu and prevent serious complications and they work best when started early.
Learn more about the flu.