Flu season can be an unnerving time for expectant and new parents. Severe cases of the flu can harm pregnant women and babies, so it’s important that everyone tries to stay as healthy as possible.
Luckily, getting a flu shot while pregnant is a simple and safe way to protect yourself and your baby from illness. Read on to learn vital information about pregnancy and flu shots, as well as the importance of getting vaccinated as a new parent.
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Why It’s Important to Get a Flu Shot While Pregnant
Experts at the U.S. National Library of Medicine say studies demonstrate that pregnant women are at a higher risk than nonpregnant women of developing flu-related complications and requiring hospitalization.
The good news is that the flu shot can help limit the risk of getting sick and getting a serious case of the flu that could harm you or your baby.
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How to Protect Your Newborn From the Flu
In addition to pregnant women, newborns are also more vulnerable to the virus, according to the CDC. And until your baby is 6 months old — the age at which a child should first get vaccinated, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics — they rely on you to protect them from the flu.
One way you can protect your baby from influenza is by getting the flu vaccine and then breastfeeding them or feeding them expressed breast milk. When you get the flu shot, your body produces antibodies that pass through your placenta and your breast milk to your baby and bolster their ability to fight the flu.
Here are other ways to protect newborns from influenza:
Wear a mask during close-contact activities, like diapering
Communicating Your Preventive Wishes to Others
If you didn’t already, hopefully you now see the importance of flu shots to your and your baby’s health. But parents aren’t the only ones who should get vaccinated — relatives and friends who’ll be in contact with you and your baby can reduce the risk of exposing you to the flu by getting the updated vaccine.
If some of your loved ones are skeptical about the flu shot, prepare to navigate conversations with them by familiarizing yourself with common myths about the vaccine. That way, you can get to know their perspective. Then, learn the facts about flu prevention so you can accurately inform them about the benefits of the flu shot for themselves and your family. Finally, ask your doctor for tips on graciously asking others if they’ve gotten this year’s dose.
Other Questions to Ask Your Doctor About Pregnancy and Flu Shots
What’s the difference between this year’s and last year’s flu vaccines? What flu symptoms should you look out for? How can the flu vaccine be administered? Are over-the-counter flu treatments safe for pregnant or nursing mothers? These questions and more may come up as you navigate flu season, and all are good questions to ask your doctor.
For other tips to stay ahead of seasonal health trends, subscribe to the UPMC HealthBeat newsletter so you never miss a beat.
A $21 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 90,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.8 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. In the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.4 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid more than $500 million in federal, state, and local taxes. Working in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC shares its clinical, managerial, and technological skills worldwide through its innovation and commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, and through UPMC International. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For more information, go to UPMC.com.