Colds, Flus & Vaccines

Why are pregnant women more prone to colds and flu?

The immune system is lowered slightly during pregnancy in order to stop a pregnant woman’s body from rejecting the unborn baby. Pregnant women might be more vulnerable to infections, such as coughs, colds, and flu.

What can I do to reduce my risk of getting a cold or the flu during pregnancy?

You can help to boost your immune system by eating a healthy diet including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. These contain antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamin C, which help to fight infections. Your doctor probably will prescribe a vitamin and mineral supplement specifically formulated for pregnant women. Make sure you get plenty of rest. Try to minimize stress as much as you can. Your immune system is stronger when you do not smoke. Of course, it also is healthier for baby when the mother avoids tobacco during pregnancy.

Is it safe to take over-the-counter cough and cold remedies during pregnancy?

Please refer to our list of safe medications. If it is not on our list, never buy cough or cold remedies over-the-counter (OTC) without first checking with your doctor about the safety of the products. Many OTC products have not been tested for safety during pregnancy, and could affect your baby’s development and health.

Is it safe to take antibiotics during pregnancy?

There are many antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy, but some are not. Make sure your doctor knows that you are pregnant. Never take antibiotics that are left over from a previous prescription, and always finish the medicine that is prescribed to you.

How can I treat coughs and colds safely?

It is safe to use a salt water throat gargle and a saline nose spray. Vapor rubs and cough lozenges are both safe. For fever and pain, use only regular or extra strength Tylenol®. Do not use aspirin, Motrin®, or ibuprofen. These can cause problems with the baby. Getting proper rest and drinking lots of fluids are always recommended to fight a cold, whether pregnant or not. In addition, it is a good idea to:

-Eat a well-balanced diet, including plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, to give you the right amounts of vitamins and minerals, carbohydrate, protein, and fat.
-Try steam inhalation for a cold with a stuffy nose. With a towel over your head, lean over a bowl of hot water with two or three drops of eucalyptus oil added and inhale to help clear the congestion.
-Prepare a soothing drink of hot water, honey, and lemon to help ease a sore throat.

How can I treat the flu safely?

If you have the symptoms of flu — fever, headaches, chills, body aches, fatigue, and loss of appetite — drink plenty of fluids, especially if you have a fever, to avoid dehydration. Vitamin C-rich fruit juices, such as orange juice, will help you fight off the infection. A drink of hot water, lemon, and honey will help soothe a sore throat. Although you might not have much of an appetite, try to eat something nutritious (such as fruit or wholegrain toast) when you can. Make sure you get plenty of rest.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have a persistent cough or cold/flu-like symptoms that do not seem to be going away, call your doctor as you might have a secondary infection. If you have a rash with a fever or if you have any concerns about your health, contact our office.

Why is vaccination necessary?

Vaccines strengthen people’s immune systems so that their bodies can fight off serious infectious diseases. Vaccines also benefit society by preventing the spread of communicable diseases.

Why do pregnant women need to be vaccinated?

Many women may not realize that they are not up-to-date on their immunizations and are susceptible to diseases that can harm them or their unborn child. Pregnant women should talk to their physicians to figure out which vaccines they may need and whether they should get them during pregnancy or wait until after their child is born.

How do I know if a vaccine’s ingredients are safe?

All vaccines are tested for safety under the supervision of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The vaccines are checked for purity, potency and safety, and the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) monitor the safety of each vaccine for as long as it is in use. Some people may be allergic to an ingredient in a vaccine, such as eggs in the influenza vaccine, and should not receive the vaccine until they have talked to their doctor.

Can a vaccine harm my unborn child?

A number of vaccines, especially live-virus vaccines, should not be give to pregnant women because they may be harmful to the baby. (A live-virus vaccine is made using the live strains of a virus.) Some vaccines can be given to the mother in the second or third trimester of pregnancy, while others should only be administered either at least three months before or immediately after the baby is born.

What happens if I am exposed to a disease while I am pregnant?

Depending on the circumstances, your doctor will weigh the risks of vaccination against the benefits the vaccine can provide.

Which vaccines can I receive while I am pregnant?

The following vaccines are considered safe to give to women who may be at risk of infection:

Hepatitis B–Pregnant women who are at high risk for this disease and have tested negative for the virus can receive this vaccine. It is used to protect the mother and baby against infection both before and after delivery.
Influenza–This vaccine can prevent serious illness in the mother during pregnancy.If you have a serious medical condition that can lead to flu-related complications, you can receive the vaccine at any stage of your pregnancy.
Tetanus/Diphtheria–This combination of vaccines are routinely recommended for pregnant women, both those who have never been immunized and those who have not received a booster in 10 years.

Which vaccines should pregnant women avoid?

The following can potentially be unsafe vaccines that may be transmitted to the unborn child and may result in miscarriage, premature birth, or birth defects:

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) – Women should wait at least three months to become pregnant after receiving these live-virus vaccines. If the initial rubella test shows that you are rubella nonimmune, then you will be given the vaccine after delivery.
Varicella – This vaccine, used to prevent chicken pox, should be given at least one month before pregnancy.

The following vaccines should be given in high-risk situations:

Hepatitis A – The safety of this vaccine has not been determined. Women at high risk for exposure to this virus should discuss the risks and benefits of vaccination with their doctors.
Pneumococcal – Because the safety of this vaccine is unknown, it should be avoided in pregnancy except for women who are at high risk or have a chronic illness.
Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) & Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) – Neither the live-virus (OPV) nor the inactivated-virus (IPV) version of this vaccine is recommended for pregnant women. Also, the risk of getting polio in the United States is very low.

What side effects can I expect after a vaccination?

Side effects vary from none to those that can occur up to three weeks after vaccination. If you experience any severe side effects, be sure to tell your physician.

Hepatitis A – Soreness and redness at injection site, headache, fatigue, severe allergic reaction in very rare cases
Hepatitis B – Soreness at injection site, fever
Influenza – Redness and swelling at injection site that can last up to two days, fever
Tetanus/Diphtheria – Low-grade fever, soreness and swelling at injection site
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) – Non-contagious rash, swelling of neck glands and cheeks, pain and stiffness of joints one to two weeks after vaccination
Varicella – Fever, soreness or redness at injection site, rash or small bumps up to three weeks after vaccination
Pneumococcal – Fever, soreness at injection site
Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) – None
Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) – Redness, discomfort at injection site