A woman’s immune system is generally weaker during pregnancy and flu can quickly be complicated by bacterial infections like pneumonia…
It’s no revelation that, when you’re pregnant, your body undergoes massive change. A weaker immune system (along with tender breasts, a growing tum AND bum – if you’re anything like me) is one of those changes.
On the upside, a weaker immune system is good because it helps stop your body from rejecting your unborn baby. Yay for clever immune systems!
On the downside however, it leaves moms-to-be more vulnerable to germs. Boo for colds and flu – especially now that the winter chill has set in. And unfortunately, so have the germs.
The flu can get serious very quickly during pregnancy
“A woman’s immune system is generally weaker during pregnancy and flu can quickly be complicated by bacterial infections like pneumonia. This can lead to complications such as premature labour, which is risky for both mom and baby,” says Dr Howard Manyonga, an obstetrician and Head of The Birthing Team*, a maternity programme that focuses on proactive prenatal care.
So, what’s the best way for pregnant woman to prevent flu?
According to Dr Manyonga, the best way to prevent flu is to get the flu vaccine early on in pregnancy as this provides moderate to high protection from the most common viral strains.
Following these tips can also help to keep those nasty germs at bay:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Drink plenty of water
- Rest up! Stay stress free and look after yourself
- Eat a well-balanced and nutritious diet – this includes lots of fresh fruit and veggies
- Do gentle (and regular) exercise to help your body stay strong
It’s important to look after your health during the growth and development of your baby – and allowing yourself to get run down is risky.
When to call the doctor?
Dr Manyonga urges pregnant woman to be aware of the symptoms of flu, which include;
- Cold symptoms like sneezing and a sore throat.
If you at any time experience these ‘red-flag’ symptoms, you should speak to your medical team immediately:
- Difficulty breathing
- Pain in your chest
- High fever
*The programme offered by The Birthing Team is designed to incentivise quality prenatal care by charging a set fee that covers all necessary scans, tests and medications from 12 weeks of pregnancy to six weeks after delivery. Most patients do not have medical aid, and pay around R20 999 for the complete programme, inclusive of delivery in a private hospital. It is currently operational at the Netcare Rand Clinic in Johannesburg, the Femina Hospital in Pretoria and JMH City Hospital in Durban.