Pregnancy and flu
The symptoms of flu can affect some people more severely than others. Pregnant women are one group recommended to protect themselves against seasonal flu by having a flu jab.
Pregnancy can increase the risk of flu complications such as bronchitis chest infections or pneumonia.
Some studies suggest that viral illness such as the flu and colds usually last three times longer in pregnant women.
Flu during pregnancy can affect the growing baby, causing complications such as low birthweight or premature birth.
When is the flu season?
The flu season can begin as early as October and last as late as May.
Vaccination is usually offered in September, but if you get pregnant after the usual flu vaccination clinics have been held, the flu jab may still be recommended at any time during the winter and spring.
The flu jab may be given at the same time as the whooping cough vaccine.
Is the flu vaccine dangerous during pregnancy?
No. The NHS recommends all pregnant women should be vaccinated regardless of the stage of pregnancy. There is no evidence of risk from vaccinating pregnant women or those who are breast-feeding with the inactivated flu virus vaccines.
The flu vaccination does not contain live virus and cannot give you the flu. Some women do have fatigue and muscle aches due to their immune system responding to the vaccine. In addition the flu jab is also safe while breast-feeding. It cannot cause you or your nursing baby to get sick. The vaccine takes about two weeks to work.
How do you find a place to get a flu vaccine?
You can get flu immunisation from your GP's surgery or local health clinic.
How do you treat symptoms of the flu or colds during pregnancy?
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink lots of liquids
- Paracetamol is generally considered safe in pregnancy
Many flu and cold medicines have not been well studied in pregnancy. If you are pregnant and have the flu, seek medical advice before taking any over-the-counter or prescription medication.
Some antiviral medications are safe in pregnancy. Your doctor will be able to advise you if you should have antiviral medication and if so which is most appropriate.
What are some natural ways to relieve flu symptoms during pregnancy?
Try these four natural flu remedies during pregnancy:
- Use sugar or honey-based lozenges to relieve sore throats and cough.
- Get plenty of rest.
- Drink ample fluids such as water, juice and caffeine-free tea.
- Consider putting an air humidifier in your room to provide extra moisture, which can help reduce congestion.
How do I prevent exposure to flu during pregnancy?
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid crowds.
- Avoid contact with people who have flu.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when you touch a contaminated surface and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
In addition seek medical advice if:
- You have trouble breathing
- Your symptoms don't improve or get worse after three to four days
- After feeling a little better, you develop signs of a more serious problem
Some signs of a more serious problem are a sick-to-your-stomach feeling, vomiting, high temperature, shaking chills, chest pain or coughing with thick, yellow-green or blood-stained phlegm.