During the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, a woman’s body begins to naturally repress its immune system. This allows immune cells to flood into the lining of the womb, which causes inflammation. While inflammation typically means pain and discomfort, this is a unique situation in which it actually helps ensure a successful pregnancy. It also helps support the growth and development of the fetus throughout the entire pregnancy.
The downside is that changes to the immune system along with changes in the heart and lungs during pregnancy make women (and women up to two weeks postpartum) much more vulnerable to severe illness from the flu. If these symptoms are left untreated, it could mean a trip to the emergency room.
The flu is not only harmful for pregnant women, but also their developing babies. A common flu symptom is fever, which may be associated with neural tube defects, congenital heart disease and certain facial deformities in babies.
How to avoid getting the flu while pregnant
- Get your flu shot
- Wash hands often and use hand sanitizer regularly
- Wipe down surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, etc.)
- Get plenty of rest
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Avoid crowds
- Avoid people who are sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
Is it safe to get a flu shot during pregnancy?
Yes, it’s safe to get a flu shot during pregnancy. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend all women who are pregnant during flu season get vaccinated, regardless of which trimester they’re in. The flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of respiratory infection (commonly associated with influenza) in pregnant women by about 50 percent.
The skilled physicians at Pomona Valley Health Centers (PVHC) offer comprehensive prenatal and OB care as well as the flu vaccine. Protect yourself and your growing baby this winter with prenatal care services from PVHC. If you’re concerned about your pregnancy and the flu, call 909-630-7829 to schedule an appointment today.