Have you ever googled “flu in pregnancy” while you are pregnant? If you haven’t, don’t. It’s very scary. For the sake of being informed, allow me to summarize.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the most widely quoted source for information, the flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in non-pregnant women. Why? “Changes to the immune system, heart, and lungs during pregnancy make people more susceptible to influenza severe enough to cause hospitalization throughout pregnancy and up to two weeks postpartum,” says the CDC.
They say the flu also may be harmful for the developing baby. A common influenza symptom, fever, may be associated with neural tube defects and other adverse outcomes for a developing baby.
Of course, every reputable source suggests pregnant women get a flu vaccine to help mitigate complications for the mom and the baby if she happens to get sick. But with vaccines being a hot-button issue these days, let’s instead discuss what you can do if you happen to get sick during pregnancy.
If you are within your first trimester, it’s best to avoid all medications not prescribed by your Nile Women’s Health Care doctor or midwife. If you happen to get sick during this time, it’s important to check in with your provider to get their opinion on what actions you can take. For instance, Certified Nurse Midwife, Brittany, says there are things that are generally safe and can provide some relief include:
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink lots of fluids
- If you have a sore throat or cough you can try gargling with warm salt water
- Saline nasal sprays/drops helps with inflammation
- A steam bath, shower or humidifier can help with congestion
- Using hot and cold packs can ease sinus pressure
- Drinking a warm cup of tea can help everything, including your mood - adding honey or lemon will help the sore throat
If you happen to get sick in your second trimester, talk to someone like Dr. Davis first but now your options for relief may open up a little bit. Your specific Nile provider may offer the following as possibilities:
- Menthol rub on your chest, temples, and under the nose
- Cough drops or lozenges
- Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Cough suppressant at night
- Expectorant during the day
- Calcium-carbonate such as Mylanta or Tums
plain cough syrup
- Dextromethorphan (Robitussin) and dextromethorphan-guaifenesin (Robitussin DM) cough syrups
No matter what trimester you are in, pregnant women should generally avoid medications that combine ingredients to address multiple symptoms at once. Instead, choose single medications for the symptoms you’re dealing with that are approved by Certified Nurse Midwife, Lynn. You should also avoid the following medications while pregnant unless recommended by your doctor. They increase the risk for problems:
- Aspirin (Bayer)
- Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)
- Naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
- Bactrim, an antibiotic
Catching the flu at anytime is awful but it’s especially bad if your pregnant. Your treatment options are immediately limited in order to protect the growth and development of the unborn baby. Wearing a mask seems to be the best, most natural way to avoid contracting the respiratory virus. Some may choose to get the flu vaccine to help lesson the symptoms should they catch the flu. Either way, be sure to consult with your Nile provider before deciding on a course of care should you happen to get sick. You can reach them for questions via DM on Facebook or IG at nilewhc.com.