Influenza—information for pregnant women and mums

Influenza—information for pregnant women and mums

Mater Mothers is committed to keeping our mums and babies safe at all times. As we enter the 2017 flu season, we’ve compiled some useful information to help protect against contracting the flu, and managing flu symptoms.

What is the flu? Influenza, or the flu, is a viral infection which spreads via droplets produced during coughing and sneezing, or by direct contact with respiratory secretions.

While many people believe the flu and common cold to be the same, they are different in that flu symptoms develop more suddenly, and can include a fever, chills, headache, and muscle aches, in addition to coughing and sneezing. The flu can also lead to more serious complications including bronchitis and pneumonia, which can result in hospitalisation and in severe cases, may be fatal.

Pregnant women have a higher risk of developing severe disease or complications after contracting the flu. Even if you are fit and healthy, changes in your immune system, heart and lung functions during pregnancy can make you more likely to become seriously unwell from the flu.

Prevention is always better than cure, and this is especially true when it comes to the flu. The single most effective way of preventing the flu is to be vaccinated.

Can I safely be vaccinated against flu while pregnant? The flu vaccine is safe for pregnant women at all stages of their pregnancy. Vaccinating against flu during pregnancy can not only protect pregnant women, but also provide ongoing protection to a newborn baby for the first six months following birth. This is important as babies under the age of six months are not able to be vaccinated against the flu, but are more likely to be hospitalised if they contract the flu.

In addition to being vaccinated, we recommend the following precautions during flu season:

  • avoid close contact with someone who has the flu (if possible)
  • practice good hand hygiene, and always clean your hands after being in contact with someone who has the flu
  • if those around you do have the flu, encourage them to cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing
  • avoid large crowds and events (if possible)

What should I do if I contract the flu? If you do contract the flu while pregnant, please speak to your primary healthcare provider (such as your GP) as soon as possible.

We also recommend that you rest, keep warm and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

If you feel unwell and have a fever, it is safe to take paracetamol—but please follow all directions as outlined on packaging.

If your child contracts the flu, offer plenty of fluids, encourage them to rest, and provide medication as appropriate based on their age.

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