Staying Healthy During Cold and Flu Season While Pregnant

Many women ask the physicians at Women’s Specialists of Plano, “Is it safe to get a flu vaccine during pregnancy?” The answer is absolutely! In many cases, flu is more likely to cause severe illness in women who are pregnant than in those who are not. This is because the immune system changes, causing women to be at an increased risk of a cold or flu while pregnant. If you are an expecting mother living in the Plano, Frisco and Dallas, Texas communities and have not received a flu shot, our Plano obstetricians highly recommend you make an appointment for the vaccine as soon as possible.

The Importance of a Flu Vaccine during Pregnancy

Changes in the immune system, lungs and heart during pregnancy place future moms-to-be at an elevated risk of developing a cold or flu while pregnant. The risk factor also includes women who have given birth within the past two weeks. Not only are pregnant women more likely to develop a severe illness, they are also more likely to require hospitalization.

The CDC currently recommends all women get a flu vaccine during pregnancy (at any trimester) to help protect themselves and their newborn babies from the harmful virus. Future moms should not be concerned about safety issues. Millions of women have been given the flu vaccine during pregnancy over a wide number of years with a good safety record.

What side effects will occur? Pregnant women experience many of the same side effects of a flu shot as other people. The most common side effects include swelling, redness and soreness in the injection area, muscle aches, fever, headaches, nausea and fatigue. Side effects are typically non-life-threatening and subside within 1-2 days following the vaccine.

What to do if a Woman Develops a Cold or Flu While Pregnant

As a result of a changed immune system, a woman often contracts a cold or flu while pregnant. Unfortunately, the illness also lasts longer in many cases. The good news is that a common cold or the flu virus is usually not dangerous to the baby, however, it is always important to avoid an illness if possible and treat it with correct measures.

If a woman does develop a cold of flu while pregnant, they are encouraged to treat it by following the steps below:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to add back into the body
  • Eat nutritious meals even if smaller portions are necessary
  • Get adequate amounts of rest throughout the day

It is recommended pregnant women reduce the number of over-the-counter medications since many are not safe to take during pregnancy. The following medications are considered safe to a developing baby, but women should discuss all medications with their doctor before taking.

  • Anesthetic sore throat lozenges
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) for fevers, body aches and headaches
  • Codeine and dextromethorphan as a cough suppressant

Pregnant women should contact their physician immediately if they develop a fever, symptoms last longer than a few days without improvement and/or symptoms cause loss of sleep and zero appetite.

If you live in the Plano, Frisco and Dallas, Texas area and would like additional resources on the flu vaccine during pregnancy, or have developed a cold or flu while pregnant, please contact the Plano obstetricians at Women’s Specialists of Plano.