Contracting the flu is never fun, but during pregnancy, it can place both mother and baby at risk. High fevers, the risk of dehydration, and trouble keeping food and water down are all to blame, but there are ways that expectant moms can protect themselves from the negative effects of the flu. The following tips can help you learn more about coping with the flu during pregnancy.
1. Stay Hydrated
Perhaps the biggest risk to expectant moms who are sick with the flu is the possibility of getting dehydrated. If you’re struggling with morning sickness, that risk could be increased even further. Decrease it by making sure you stay hydrated. Avoid caffeinated and sugary beverages and, instead, opt for tea and water. If you start to notice symptoms of dehydration, you may also want to consider visiting the emergency room for fluids.
2. Stick with Bland and Easy-to-Digest Foods
When you’re sick with the flu, the last thing you want to do is think about eating – but food can help you keep your strength up. Try munching on bland and easy-to-digest foods, such as toast and plain crackers. If solid foods aren’t working, you may want to consider some chicken or vegetable broth since they are often easier to keep down than solid foods.
3. Monitor and Manage Your Fever
Fever is the body’s natural response to viruses like the flu, but an exceptionally high fever can place both you and your baby at risk. Minimize it by carefully monitoring your temperature and, when necessary, manage it with medication. Acetaminophen is typically safe during pregnancy, but be sure to talk to your doctor before taking it.
4. Talk to Your Doctor About Antiviral Medications
If you notice that you’re starting to feel sick and suspect it is the flu, contact your doctor and make an appointment. If your suspicion is correct, you may be prescribed antiviral medications. These can reduce the severity of your illness, which may also decrease your overall odds of experiencing dehydration and a high fever. It can also drastically cut the amount of time it takes you to recover from the flu.
5. Take Pregnancy-Approved Over the Counter Medications
While healthcare professionals typically discourage the use of over-the-counter medications during pregnancy (especially during the first 12 weeks), there are some that you can take to help alleviate your symptoms during the second and third trimester. Examples include certain cold medicines, nasal strips, acetaminophen, and cough drops or lozenges. If you are ever unsure about a medication, be sure to talk to your doctor.
6. Sleep as Much as Possible
Sleep is the body’s natural way of healing itself – and it can be especially helpful for expectant mothers. Your body’s need for rest is already increased because of the pregnancy, but while you have the flu, it is important that you sleep and rest as much as possible.
7. Consider Asking for Help
A little bit of help can go a long way when you’re sick – especially when you’re pregnant and have other children or a home to keep up with. So don’t be shy! Ask your friends and family for help with the cleaning or the kids. Drop the kids off at the sitter’s or at daycare, even if you plan on doing nothing more than going home to sleep and rest. You and your baby need this time so that you can get well again.
Do you have any other tips for expectant mothers dealing with the flu? What helped you? We’d love to hear about it!