The flu is more than just a bad cold – it involves symptoms such as fever, nausea, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, coughing, and a sore throat. If the flu is left untreated, it can lead to pneumonia, which can be quite severe. Pregnant and postpartum women are more at risk of adverse side effects of influenza, and should get their symptoms checked promptly by their OB, midwife, or other health care provider. The health care provider can administer medication that is safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding. But how can you prevent the flu from coming home with you and transferring it to your baby? Here are some tips that can keep everyone safe this flu season.
- Hand washing.
A simple and easy way to help protect your little ones from the flu or other cold bugs lingering on surfaces this season is hand washing. Washing your hands is a practical method of ensuring you are not transferring anything you might have picked up on your hands to your child. Once your child begins interacting with other children, it is a great idea to wash their hands as well. Pro Tip: getting your kids excited about washing their hands will ensure you will not have an issue when it comes to scrub time.
- Flu shot.
Everyone has mixed feelings about the flu shot. “It doesn’t even work” and “It actually made me sick” are common remarks that can be heard when you ask people why they do not get the flu shot. However, during pregnancy, your body’s immune system changes naturally, which can put you more at risk for infections and disease, including influenza. According to ACOG, if left untreated, the flu could possibly cause a pregnant person to go into preterm labour. For anyone else living in the home, if you do not want to get the flu shot for yourself, your medical provider may say it is still a good idea to get it just in case, and it can help prevent the vulnerable people in your life (young, old, or pregnant) from getting sick.
- Stay home when you’re sick.
Viruses like the flu spread much easier and faster when there are bigger groups of people, such as places of work and schools. Taking your time to rest and recover at home is important not just for your own well being, but for the well being of others.
- Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
Again, it seems so simple, but covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze will help prevent the spread of the flu through the air. A tissue, or the crook of your elbow, will work.
For more information and a list of commonly asked questions about the flu and pregnancy, please check out the following page from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Immunization-Infectious-Disease-and-Public-Health-Preparedness-Expert-Work-Group/Assessment-and-Treatment-of-Pregnant-Women-With-Suspected-or-Confirmed-Influenza