Stomach Virus Risks By Trimester
Although your bodys guard is down during pregnancy, it still has plenty of safeguards against bugs. Your baby is protected against stomach viruses and most other germs that manage to get in.
In fact, even if youre violently ill with a stomach virus, the germs rarely get across the barrier around your baby. Even so, your illness can impact your babys well-being.
A stomach virus can leave you dehydrated and put your immune system into overdrive. These side effects can sometimes lead to serious pregnancy and birth complications.
The risks for your blossoming little one depend on where you are in your pregnancy.
What Are The Benefits Of Getting The Flu Shot During Pregnancy
If you are pregnant, there are several benefits to getting the flu shot. It may help:
- Prevent severe illness from the flu. The flu is more likely to severely affect you if you are pregnant, since changes in your immune system and other organs make you more prone to severe illness. Getting the flu vaccine can reduce your chances of getting hospitalized by 40%.
- Protect your unborn baby from flu-related complications. If you get the flu in early pregnancy, the chances of your baby being born with birth defects increases.
- Protect your baby after birth. Newborns and infants are at an increased risk of getting flu, but they can only be vaccinated after 6 months of age. When you receive a flu shot during pregnancy, you pass on the antibodies to your baby through the placenta.
Are Flu Vaccinations Safe During Pregnancy
Flu vaccination shots are proven safe for the pregnant mother and unborn baby. However, the flu nasal spray vaccine is not recommended for women who are pregnant, or who are trying to conceive, as it contains a live strain of the virus .
Pregnant women can get vaccinated for the flu at any time during their pregnancy, although it is recommended to be vaccinated early on during flu season . In addition to the benefit of preventing the mother from catching the flu while pregnant, the flu vaccine also has positive benefits for the unborn baby.When a mother gets vaccinated while she is pregnant, antibodies are transmitted from the vaccinated mother to the unborn baby across the placenta. The vaccination can protect the infant for up to 6 months after birth. Studies have also found that prevention of the flu in pregnant women by immunization can positively affect the growth of the unborn baby.
The flu shot is also proven to be safe for mothers who are breastfeeding, as the antibodies pass through the breast milk harmlessly to your baby. The only side effects include soreness, tenderness, and redness where the shot was given.
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Does The Flu Vaccine Have Any Side Effects
Yes, there could be some mild side effects of the flu vaccine, which might last for one or two days. Its important to remember though that getting flu itself would be far worse.
It might feel a bit sore where the injection went in, and you may have slight flu-like symptoms like a headache, muscle aches, fever or tiredness. But as the vaccine is inactive, it cant actually give you flu .
What If Im Exposed To Zika Virus
The Zika virus is a travel-related virus that can cause birth defects if a woman is exposed during pregnancy. Zika outbreaks have been reported in South America, Central America, and North America. The virus can cause microcephaly . The infection is transmitted through an infected mosquito bite or is passed to a woman through sexual contact. Women who are pregnant or hope to become pregnant should avoid travel to these regions and use a condom during sex if your partner has traveled to the area. Your doctor will tell you how long you must wait before trying to become pregnant if your partner has been exposed to the virus.
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Dealing With The Flu While Pregnant
Flu is an infectious viral illness spread by coughs and sneezes. It’s not the same as a cold. Flu is caused by a different group of viruses. Symptoms tend to be more severe and last longer.
You can catch flu short for influenza all year round, but it is especially common in winter.
If you are pregnant and think you have the flu, see your doctor as soon as possible. It is recommended that pregnant women who have the flu are treated with antiviral medicines because they are at much higher risk of complications. Antiviral medicines work best when started within 48 hours of symptoms starting.
Antivirals will not cure flu, but they will help to:
- reduce the length of time you are ill by around one day
- relieve some of the symptoms
- reduce the potential for serious complications
If this is the case, you should also:
- drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
You can take paracetamol to help lower your high temperature and relieve aches.
Why Are Pregnant Women Advised To Have The Flu Vaccine
The flu jab will help protect both you and your baby.
There is good evidence that pregnant women have a higher chance of developing complications if they get flu, particularly in the later stages of pregnancy.
One of the most common complications of flu is bronchitis, a chest infection that can become serious and develop into pneumonia.
If you have flu while you’re pregnant, it could cause your baby to be born prematurely or have a low birthweight, and may even lead to stillbirth or death.
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A Flu Vaccine Is The Best Protection Against Flu
Getting an influenza vaccine is the first and most important step in protecting against flu. Pregnant people should get a flu shot and not the nasal spray flu vaccine. Flu shots given during pregnancy help protect both the pregnant parent and the baby from flu. Vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of flu-associated acute respiratory infection in pregnant people by up to one-half. A 2018 studyexternal icon showed that getting a flu shot reduced a pregnant persons risk of being hospitalized with flu by an average of 40 percent. Pregnant people who get a flu vaccine also are helping to protect their babies from flu illness for the first several months after their birth, when they are too young to get vaccinated. A list of recent studies on the benefits of flu vaccination for pregnant people is available.
The Importance Of Staying Hydrated
The truth about stomach viruses is that they can cause water loss from ahem both ends. Not replacing this water right away can quickly lead to dehydration.
Your body needs even more water than normal when youre pregnant. Keep yourself and your bun in the oven hydrated as you get over the stomach bug by:
- drinking plenty of clear fluids like water, herbal tea, broth, and juice
- drinking fizzy drinks like ginger ale
- drinking sport drinks with added vitamins and minerals
- sucking on ice cubes or frozen juice bars
- eating juicy fruit like an orange or watermelon
- adding oral rehydration salts to drinks
- avoiding caffeine
If youre seriously dehydrated you might need to go to the hospital for treatment. A saline solution will be injected into your body with an IV to quickly hydrate you. Dehydration can trigger other complications in your body and put you at risk of other infections like a urinary tract infection ouch.
If you have the stomach flu, check for signs that you might be dehydrated:
- dark yellow urine
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Headache Body Aches Cramping And Back Pain
We often get achy all over when we have the flu, but headaches, body aches, cramping, and pain are also all considered normal during early pregnancy.
These symptoms are related to an increase in blood volume, but if the headaches become too intense or too regular, it’s something you should discuss with your doctor, just to be safe.
How Is Flu During Pregnancy Diagnosed
To diagnose the flu, your healthcare provider may use a flu test such as:
- Rapid influenza diagnostic test : This test shows results in 10 to 15 minutes.
- Rapid molecular assay: This test shows results in 15 to 20 minutes.
Your healthcare provider will wipe the inside of your nose or the back of your throat with a long cotton swab. The test should be quick and painless.
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Understanding Flu And Pregnancy
Influenza is not directly passed from mother to baby, but its potentially devastating effect on the mother is closely connected to the complications suffered by the baby.
Pregnant women who develop influenza are at higher risk of hospitalisation with pneumonia and other complications, while babies of mothers severely affected by flu are at increased risk of fetal growth restriction, miscarriage and preterm births.
The risk of flu remains a significant issue in pregnancy, with over 60% of pregnant Australian women not getting the flu vaccine.
Scientists have previously thought the reason flu has such serious health impacts is because the immune system is suppressed during pregnancy to enable the fetus to thrive, making it harder to fight infections.
But the new research on Influenza A shows the virus behaves very differently in the bodies of pregnant and non-pregnant mice.
In non-pregnant mice, the flu infection remains localised to the lungs. But in pregnant mice, the virus spreads into the circulatory system via the blood vessels.
This leads to intense inflammation that drastically affects the function of large blood vessels, which severely impacts on the health of the mother and can also restrict blood flow to the growing fetus.
Can I Continue To Breastfeed If I Have Flu
The only clear answer to this is that breast milk is still good for your baby and you can either express your milk or directly breastfeed them. Some guidelines encourage mothers to express their milk to maintain their milk supply the suggestion is that someone else whos healthy cares for the baby to minimise risks of transmission . Yet other advice suggests mothers with flu or any other contagious diseases can continue to breastfeed this is because of the potential trauma of separation and the likelihood babies have already been exposed .
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What Should I Do If Im Exposed To Chickenpox
Chickenpox is caused by the varicella virus and is highly contagious. It can be serious during pregnancy. Sometimes, chickenpox can cause birth defects. If you have had chickenpox in the past, it is unlikely you will catch it again. If you have not had chickenpox or if you are not sure, see your doctor. Your doctor will test your blood to see if you are immune.
Many people who dont remember having chickenpox are immune. If your blood test shows that you are not immune, you can take medicines to make your illness less severe and help protect your baby from chickenpox.
Is The Flu Vaccine Safe In Pregnancy
Yes. Studies have shown that it’s safe to have the flu vaccine during any stage of pregnancy, from the first few weeks up to your expected due date.
Women who have had the flu vaccine while pregnant also pass some protection on to their babies, which lasts for the first few months of their lives.
It’s safe for women who are breastfeeding to have the vaccine.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- How do I know if Ive been exposed to someone infected with a virus?
- What can I do to prevent exposure?
- How do I know if Im immune to certain viruses?
- At what point should I get a flu shot?
- Are there any other vaccines I should get before or during pregnancy?
- What should I do once I become exposed to a harmful virus?
When The Flu Becomes Dangerous
Some studies have shown that pregnant women who deliver while they have the flu are more likely to deliver low-birth-weight babies and experience preterm birth. In rare occasions during very early pregnancy, a high fever during the first trimester can affect your babys development. To reduce a high fever, acetaminophen will help keep your temperature under control and will not harm your baby.
Seek medical attention if you are pregnant, have the flu and begin to experience:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
Sudden dizziness or confusion
High fever that isnt responding to acetaminophen
Minimized or no movement of your baby
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What Are Signs And Symptoms Of The Flu
Signs of a condition are things someone else can see or know about you, like you have a rash or youre coughing. Symptoms are things you feel yourself that others cant see, like having a sore throat or feeling dizzy. Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:
- Being very tired or sleepy
- Fever , chills or body shakes. Not everyone who has the flu has a fever.
- Sore throat
- Vomiting or diarrhea
The flu often comes on quickly. Fever and most other symptoms can last a week or longer. But some people can be sick from the flu for a long time, including children, people older than 65, pregnant women and women who have recently had a baby.
- Feeling your baby move less or not at all
- High fever that doesnt go down after taking acetaminophen . Dont take any medicine without checking with your provider first.
- Pain or pressure in the chest or belly
- Sudden dizziness or confusion
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
- Vomiting thats severe or doesnt stop
- Flu signs or symptoms that get better but then come back with fever and a worse cough
Cold And Flu During Pregnancy
Colds and flu symptoms can be very similar to the symptoms of COVID-19. Even if your symptoms are mild, get tested for COVID-19 immediately use the colds and flu Symptom Checker if you’re not sure what to do. You can also learn more here about COVID-19 during pregnancy.
Getting the cold or flu when you are pregnant can affect your unborn baby. If you are considering pregnancy or are already pregnant, it is highly recommended that you have the flu vaccination to help protect you and your baby.
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When Should You Call The Doctor
- You have trouble breathing.
- Your symptoms don’t improve or get worse after 3 to 4 days.
- After feeling a little better, you start having signs of a more serious problem, like a sick-to-your-stomach feeling, vomiting, high fever, shaking chills, chest pain, or coughing with thick, yellow-green mucus.
How Should I Treat My Symptoms
Call your doctor before you take any over-the-counter treatment.
Your doctor may suggest:
- Saline nasal spray or nasal irrigation
- Pseudoephedrine, the , may be helpful. Avoid it in the first trimester or if you have high blood pressure.
You can usually find these treatments among over-the-counter cold and flu remedies. Check labels carefully.
Your doctor will know what prescription drug you can use. There are 4 to choose from: baloxavir marboxil , oseltamivir , peramivir , or zanamivir in pregnant women with suspected or test-proven flu. Xofluza and oseltamivir are taken by mouth are preferred because of their safety and effectiveness.
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Medications To Avoid During Pregnancy
Some of the medications that could help with flu symptoms when youre not pregnant are off the table for moms-to-be because they may cause harm to the unborn baby. These include:
- Some pain relievers. Aspirin, ibuprofen , or naproxen aren’t safe during pregnancy because they can be harmful to Mom and baby.
- Most decongestants. Decongestants like Claritin-D, Sudafed or DayQuil should be avoided when youre expecting . Even those experts who say its okay to take certain decongestants will caution that its only safe to use after the first trimester and only as long as its used in a limited amount.
- Some nasal sprays. Steer clear of nonsteroidal nasal decongestant sprays containing oxymetazoline unless given the green light by your practitioner. Many will tell you to avoid these sprays completely while you’re expecting, while others will advise only limited use after the first trimester.
- Homeopathic remedies. Never take Echinacea or other supplements without medical approval.
The Dangers Of The Flu While Pregnant
Contracting the flu is never welcome, and this is especially true during pregnancy. Having the flu while pregnant can increase the likelihood of getting a severe illness. Your immune system is weaker while youre pregnant and the demands upon your body are much greater. This increases your chances of contracting illnesses, and having them progress quicker. Some signs and symptoms of the flu may include:
Severe aches or pains in the muscles and joints
Headaches, dry cough, sore throat and/or runny nose
Muscle weakness or extreme fatigue
Warm, flushed skin and red, watery eyes
Pain and soreness around your eyes
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When Should You Get Vaccinated
The influenza vaccine can be given at any stage during pregnancy. It is best given before the influenza season starts but it can be given at any time during the year and it will still provide some protection to the mother and baby when it is born.
Women who were vaccinated before becoming pregnant should be re-vaccinated during pregnancy to protect the baby.
How Is The Flu Treated During Pregnancy
If you think you have the flu even if youve been vaccinated, call your health care provider right away. She may prescribe an antiviral medicine to help prevent or treat the flu. Antivirals kill infections caused by viruses. They can make your flu milder and help you feel better faster. Antivirals also can help prevent serious flu complications, like pneumonia. For flu, antivirals work best if you take them within 2 days of having symptoms. Quick treatment with antiviral medicine can help prevent serious flu complications.
If youve had close contact with someone who has the flu during your pregnancy or in the 2 weeks after giving birth, tell your health care provider. Even if you dont have signs or symptoms of flu, your provider may want to treat you with an antiviral medicine to help prevent you from getting the flu and having serious complications.
Three medicines are approved in the United States to prevent or treat the flu in pregnant women and women who recently had a baby. Talk to your provider about which one is right for you:
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