The flu is a disease of the respiratory system caused by the influenza virus. In pregnancy, a woman's immune system is somewhat more depressed and, therefore, pregnant women are more likely to be infected with the flu virus.
However, it must be said that this virus has a contagious capacity, that is, it can pass very easily from one person to another through the droplets of saliva that are expelled when talking, coughing or sneezing. Contagion by contact with contaminated hands or objects also represents a rapid route of infection.
The flu in pregnancy has symptoms very similar to those of colds, but what makes it quickly distinguishable is that the symptoms appear suddenly, and in just a few hours the discomfort is evident. Symptoms of the flu in pregnancy are usually:
- Muscle pains
- General discomfort
- Fever of more than 38 ºC, that can last four or five days.
It is rare for a strong sore throatHowever, the flu usually causes discomfort in the bronchial tubes, which are perceived in the upper part of the chest and which are usually accompanied by a strong expectorant cough, great fatigue and general loss of appetite.
After the acute phase, when the fever subsides, the sequelae such as fatigue and cough can last two more weeks.
The flu virus does not cross the placental barrier, so flu in pregnancy is not transmitted to the fetus. The good news is that the virus remains in the mother's respiratory epithelium. However, the symptoms, some of them, can affect the developing baby. Rules so that the flu affects your baby as little as possible:
1. Maternal loss of appetite
It is important, despite the lack of appetite, that the pregnant woman continues to watch her diet despite her illness and eat the food she needs for the proper development of her pregnancy.
Replacing fluids, based on hot broths, fruit juices rich in vitamin C and vegetable purees is essential to nourish the body not only with water, but also with the vitamins you need to fight the virus, at the same time, that you strengthen your system immunological.
3. Fever control
It is convenient to control the fever and lower it, following the instructions of your doctor. The risk of fetal well-being based on maternal temperature is unknown. It is recommended that the fever does not exceed 38 ºC or 38.5 ºC.
4. Respiratory symptoms
Nasal congestion should be avoided by performing nasal washes with seawater to avoid the accumulation of mucus and that the flu can be complicated by sinusitis. Redness and discomfort in the throat can be relieved with candy. Avoid taking any medications that are not prescribed by your doctor, such as cough syrups.
The danger of the flu is that it can be complicated by pneumonia, when the defenses of the expectant mother are low. Therefore, it is very important that you follow the controls set by your doctor or gynecologist, that you do not self-medicate and that you rest at home. The flu should be spent in bed, rest is the best remedy and a good recommendation to recover as soon as possible.
No one is safe from contracting the flu when the cold arrives and temperatures drop, so the best way to protect yourself from this virus is by being cautious and taking certain daily hygiene measures such as washing your hands, not having contact with people who already have it and get vaccinated against the flu.
In this last point, many pregnant women are afraid of the 'possible' consequences that it may have for the development of their pregnancy and for the baby itself. Next we are going to tell you the recommendations made in this regard by the Spanish Association of Pediatrics regarding vaccines in pregnancy and, specifically, that of the flu.
- Flu vaccination in pregnant women offers many advantages for women (avoids possible complications and hospital admissions), but also for the baby since not only the woman will protect herself but "she will transmit the antibodies that she makes as a result of her vaccination and will provide a barrier of protection against the flu during the first months of life," they explain from the AEP.
- In addition, another benefit is that when the baby is born and, due to this protection offered by its mother, the newborn is less likely to suffer serious respiratory infections (asthma, pneumonia, bronchitis, bronchiolitis ...) .
- This flu vaccine is suitable and safe for all women, even for those with an egg allergy. The only adverse reactions that have been observed are the typical ones: pain and redness in the area where it is placed or perhaps some fever or general malaise.
- At the beginning of autumn is when the vaccination campaign usually begins in all countries and it is the ideal period for the pregnant woman to receive the administration of the vaccine, regardless of whether she is in the first, second or third trimester of pregnancy. Influenza in the first trimester has been associated with fetal development problems and, in subsequent trimesters, with premature delivery and low birth weight babies.
- If it is your second or third pregnancy and you have already been vaccinated, you may think that you are already immune and that it is not necessary to go to the nurse, but it is not. You must be vaccinated in each of your pregnancies.
- At the time of receiving the necessary dose, it will be put in an arm (injectable), avoiding those administered by spray (intranasal) because they contain weakened live viruses.
- Finally, if you want to protect yourself and your little one and spend a pregnancy without scares, between weeks 27 and 32 of gestation, the pertussis vaccine is also recommended (if there is a risk of premature birth, it could be administered earlier). It is a serious and even fatal disease.
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