When you are a mom-to-be, your responsibility for your baby’s welfare starts even while he/she is still in your womb – and one of the most important steps you can do is to guard against the flu. Keep in mind that while the flu is usually not dangerous for most adults, it can quickly become dangerous for expectant moms because of the higher risks for serious complications including pneumonia. In turn, these serious complications may result in death.
Mother and Child at Risk
Pregnant women are four times more likely to require hospitalization and die in comparison with the general population once infected by the flu. But that’s now all either. Even when you survive the infection with little to no aftereffects, your baby has higher risks for health issues. These include premature birth that, in turn, causes several complications like low birth weight as well as potentially lifelong problems
In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers discovered that a flu infection increased the risk for the death of an unborn baby. In contrast, they also discovered that the flu vaccine administered to pregnant women decreased the likelihood of a flu diagnosis among them without increasing the risk for fetal mortality. Instead, they noted that the vaccine may actually contribute to the reduction of risks of fetal deaths associated with a flu infection.
Prevention of the Flu Starts with Mother
Indeed, since the unborn baby is helpless against the onslaught of pathogens, it’s your responsibility as the mother to take the necessary preventive step. You must discuss these preventive measures with your doctor:
- Have yourself vaccinated with the flu vaccine, which is available in many pharmacies like Walgreens, since it’s the most effective means of prevention. Even when you still get infected, your body will be more able to fight off the virus and, thus, your symptoms will be less severe and shorter in duration.
- Avoid sharing food and drinks, utensils like cups, forks, and spoons, and personal things with others especially with people who have been sick
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes, and nose since your hands can easily transfer pathogens to these areas. Disinfect areas that are commonly touched by others, such as telephones and doorknobs.
- Stay as healthy as possible by adopting a nutritious diet, exercising on a moderate basis, getting plenty of sleep, and keeping your stress under control.
Most important, follow your regular medical check-ups with your doctor to ensure that everything’s on track with your pregnancy and to diagnose any issues, including a flu infection, as early as possible.