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Swine Flu and Pregnancy

When you’re pregnant, the last thing you want to be is sick. Swine flu, as most people call it, is something you really want to look out for. Your doctor or nurse may call it pH1N1. That’s the strain of flu making most people sick in the winter of 2013-2014. You can take steps to prevent it, and lessen its impact on you both.

If you get pH1N1, chances are it won’t lead to serious health problems. But it may last longer than it would if you weren’t pregnant, and there is a higher chance it could lead to pneumonia. Changes to your immune system during pregnancy make it harder for you to fight off infections. Swine flu can lead to early labor and delivery, and in rare cases might hurt your baby.

Get a Flu Shot

The best way to protect against swine flu is by getting the seasonal flu shot. The 2013-14 vaccine protects against pH1N1 as well as other flu strains. Getting the vaccine while you are pregnant helps protect your baby before and after birth.

Aim to get a shot as soon as it is offered in your area. But even if it’s later in the season, you should still get one. It's considered safe to get any time during your pregnancy.  Pregnant women shouldn't take the nasal spray vaccine.

Avoid Exposure

Like all the flu strains, the pH1N1 flu can be spread through the air -- by coughs or sneezes -- or on surfaces, like someone's hand after the person sneezes into it. Protect yourself and your baby the same way you do against all infections.

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Don't touch your eyes, nose, or mouth until you wash your hands.
  • Avoid kissing, hugging, or shaking hands with anyone who has the virus.
  • Take care of your health: Get plenty of sleep and exercise, drink plenty of fluids, and eat healthy.

 

Know the Symptoms

Swine flu symptoms are like those of other flu strains:

  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Fever
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Body aches

You may also vomit or have diarrhea.

When to See Your Doctor

If you think you may have the flu, call your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will decide if you should take one of these antiviral drugs:

These medicines may help you prevent serious problems.

You can take these drugs anytime during your pregnancy. If you care for or live with someone who has the flu, your doctor may also advise you to take an antiviral drug up to 2 weeks after your baby is born.

When to Get Emergency Care

Get medical care right away if you:

  • Have shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Feel suddenly dizzy or confused
  • Have pain or pressure in your chest
  • Have severe or constant vomiting
  • Have a high fever
  • Feel less or no movement from your baby

WebMD Medical Reference

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