Disclosure : Thank you to Heartland Women’s Group Gynecology and Obstetrics Services for sponsoring this post and to Dr. Janna Chibry for sharing her expertise with our community of moms.
Whether you are expecting your first child or your fifth, one thing remains the same – you want to provide the best care for your developing baby.
Besides receiving routine prenatal care, a flu shot during pregnancy can protect both you and baby from the flu and its possible consequences.
Why should you receive the flu shot?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges people every year to get a flu shot, and pregnant women should be at the front of that line.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a woman’s immune system changes during pregnancy, which results in increased opportunities for seasonal flu viruses to cause complications and serious illness. And pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized with flu.
Flu infections can increase their risk of preterm labor and early delivery. Additionally, health complications from influenza, such as pneumonia, can be serious and even deadly – for you and your unborn baby.
When should you get the flu shot?
Pregnant women should receive the flu shot during flu season, regardless of how far along they are in their pregnancies, according to updated guidelines released by the ACOG.
How does it help your baby?
Getting the flu shot when pregnant protects not only expectant mothers, but also babies, who can’t be vaccinated against influenza until they’re at least 6 months old. The babies of vaccinated women receive antibodies from their mothers while in the womb, helping to protect them against the flu until they’re old enough to be vaccinated themselves.
Is the flu vaccine safe?
Since the last time ACOG issued guidelines on the flu vaccine, in 2010, even more evidence has shown that the vaccine is safe for pregnant women, according to the new guidelines.
And the ACOG states new data shows the continued critical need for influenza vaccination during pregnancy and for providers to recommend and provide vaccinations.
In today’s world, we can research any topic on the Internet. This is both a blessing and a curse – we have valuable information right at our fingertips, but sometimes we don’t know what to do with it.
But let me tell you this – before the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic, flu vaccination rates for pregnant women were only 15 percent. That rose to 50 percent in the 2009-2010 flu season and has been around that mark every flu season since. However, vaccination rates could and should be even higher. Preventing the flu is so important and it can be easily done by getting the flu shot.
Are there other ways to prevent the flu?
Besides the flu shot, good, healthy habits can help stop the spread of germs.
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
· Stay home when you are sick.
· Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
· Wash your hands often.
What if I think I already have the flu?
Early treatment is important for pregnant women. Having a fever caused by flu infection or other infections early in pregnancy can lead to complications in an unborn child. Please contact your doctor if you have any flu-like symptoms or are interested in getting your flu shot.
Dr. Janna Chibry specializes in obstetrics and gynecology with Heartland Women’s Group. Please call 316.858.7100 or visit www.heartlandwomensgroup.com for more information or to schedule an appointment.