Artem/Fotolia

Is The Flu Worse During Pregnancy? Science Explains

By
Share
Ad failed to load

Getting the flu sucks. In 2009, the year after I had my son, I totally spaced and forgot to get my flu shot. When your husband is a police officer, and therefore exposed to every virus known to man, this is a really bad idea. My husband and son both got theirs, but I got lost in the fray. I came down with the worst flu of my life, and miserable doesn't begin to cover how I felt. What if it'd happened just the year before? Is the flu worse during pregnancy, or does it just suck across the board?

Getting the flu is horrible no matter when you get it, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the changes that occur in your body during pregnancy increase the effects and the possible damage done by the flu virus. Not only are you in an immunocompromised state during your pregnancy, but your heart and lungs undergo significant changes while you're pregnant that exacerbate the symptoms of influenza, increasing the danger of a disease that is already possibly deadly.

Beyond the dangers to you that the flu represents, there are also dangers to your unborn baby. According to The March of Dimes, women who experience the flu during pregnancy are more likely to go into labor early — before 37 weeks. There is also the risk of birth defects associated with the high fever that typically accompanies flu.

Ad failed to load
Giphy

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, every pregnant woman, regardless of trimester, should receive the flu shot not only to protect them from the disease responsible for one in 10 maternal deaths per year, but also to protect their child from the flu after they're born. Note that I said flu shot, as the nasal spray is not recommended in pregnancy.

Babies under 6 months of age rely on not being exposed to the flu virus to keep them safe. Also, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health, those antibodies from the flu vaccine are passed in breast milk, giving another layer of protection to your growing baby if you choose to breastfeed your child.

Ad failed to load

According to a study completed by the CDC, pregnant women are more likely to be hospitalized with the flu than those who aren't. Pregnant women with the flu require more rigid monitoring, as well as being more likely to be admitted to the intensive care unit than other healthy women of the same age who aren't pregnant. A recent study from Stanford suggested that the severe symptoms are not simply because a woman is immunosuppressed either. They found that it's likely that there is a severe immune response that is triggered by the presence of the flu virus, making problems like severe congestion and high fever worse because your body is working so hard to combat the problem by amping up its immune response to protect your body and that of your baby.

The flu is nothing to be messed around with. While it's easy to worry about the efficacy and dangers related to the vaccine itself, it's more important to protect yourself and your child as much as you can. Beyond just the vaccine, make sure you're frequently washing your hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth while you're out and about. Try to avoid congested spaces where the flu is likely to be present, and if you do think you're coming down with the flu, contact your doctor immediately so that you can start the treatment before it becomes a dire emergency. Being sick at any time is unpleasant. Being sick while you're pregnant is the worst.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load

Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

21 Moms Share The Most Surprising Part About Having A C-Section

Honestly, I don't think we, as a culture, talk about C-sections nearly enough, especially considering so many mothers experience them. And because of a number of factors, the little we do talk about it always seems to be a familiar narrative: "It's n…
By Jamie Kenney

13 Yummy Instant Pot Recipes To Make Under 30 Minutes

A Instant Pot seems to be the must-have appliance in every kitchen these days. If you are anything like me and never knew the beauty of a Instant Pot, you are about to have your life changed. Basically, you put some ingredients into a pot, set the te…
By Kristin Manna

9 Things The First Six Months Of Motherhood Will Teach You About Your Baby

Personally, the first six months of motherhood was a mixed bag. I learned some harsh lessons about myself that made taking care of my baby seem overwhelming. For example, I was clueless, and no amount of research could help me feel like anything but …
By Steph Montgomery

These Photos Of North West Then & Now Will Take You On A Sweet Trip Down Memory Lane

When Kim Kardashian welcomed her first daughter, North West, with her husband, Kanye West, in 2013, her whole life was changed. The social media and reality TV star became a mom for the first time and her Instagram presence took a very adorable turn.…
By Casey Suglia

11 Photos You *Must* Take During The Last Days Of Your Pregnancy

During my first pregnancy, I took a photo each week to document my growing belly. I stopped around 36 weeks, though. I hated how I looked in those pictures, and didn't think I'd want to relive those moments. I was wrong. My second pregnancy was a dum…
By Steph Montgomery

This Is What It Means If Your Pregnancy Test Changes Overnight

The time between when a woman suspects she might be pregnant and when it is confirmed for sure is the longest of her life. Regardless of whether you are hoping for a positive or a negative result, the odds are good that you are sweating bullets when …
By Shannon Evans

6 Red Flags To Definitely Look Out For After Your Baby Falls

The first time my infant son tried to take a few steps, he tumbled and bumped his head on the coffee table. My blood turned to ice in my veins and I froze. There truly isn't anything quite like the feeling a parent gets when their little one gets hur…
By Sarah Bunton

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack