Updated: Apr 27, 2019
Getting flu can be serious when you’re expecting as your immunity is at all-time low.
Unfortunately, it’s harder for your immune system to fight off infections during pregnancy, which means you’re at risk of coming down with serious flu complication like pneumonia (chest infection) or encephalitis (brain infection).
Flu is safe for baby but high fever isn't
The influenza virus does not harm or cause birth defects of baby. However, high fever (> 39 degrees) is harmful during the first trimester and can cause spina bifida.
Pregnant women are more susceptible to colds and flu due to the poor immune system. They are more prone to the serious complication of flu.
If you have fever, paracetamol is safe to take. 2 tabs (1 g) is safe for every 6-hourly.
Several medications are considered safe after 12 weeks of pregnancy. These include:
Topical menthol rub
Cough drops or lozenges (I advocate Ivy Leave Extract)
Cough suppressant at night
Dextromethorphan (Robitussin) and Dextromethorphan-guaifensein (Robitussin DM) cough syrups
What else should I do during flu attack?
Get plenty of rest.
Drink a lot of fluids.
Gargle with warm salt water, if you have a sore throat or cough.
Getting flu and whooping cough vaccine while pregnant
I strongly encourage women to get the flu shot which protects against the seasonal influenza virus. Its effectiveness may vary from year to year. The vaccine reduces the risk of flu by 40 to 60%. Even if you do get the flu, you’re less likely to develop serious complications like pneumonia or encephalitis. So go for it! I advocate taking after first trimester.
In recent years, whooping cough vaccine is also recommended in second or third trimester of pregnancy. It protects you and baby from acute pertussis infection. It is safe and I would strongly recommend especially if you work with children or in healthcare sector.