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Pregnant Women and the Flu

Seven things you need to know about influenza (flu).

Pregnant women, even ones who are healthy, can have medical complications from seasonal influenza.

Contact your provider for information on how to get your flu shot.

Protect yourself and your baby by getting the flu shot. The tips and resources below will help you learn about steps to take to protect yourself and others from influenza. Visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information. 

Note: Influenza and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses caused by different viruses. Because some of the symptoms of influenza and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Contact your primary care provider if you have flu-like symptoms to learn the best treatment for you.

1. Get vaccinated.

The single best way to prevent influenza is to get vaccinated each year, but good health habits like covering your cough and washing your hands often can help stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses like influenza.

2. Avoid close contact.

Avoid close contact with people who are sick. When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

3. Stay home when you are sick.

If possible, stay home from work, school and errands when you are sick. This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

4. Cover your mouth and nose.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. It may prevent those around you from getting sick. 

5. Clean your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

6. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

7. Practice other good health habits.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.

Early Treatment is Important for Pregnant Women

  • Treatment should begin as soon as possible because antiviral drugs work best when started early (within 48 hours after symptoms start).
  • Antiviral drugs can make your influenza illness milder and make you feel better faster. They may also prevent serious health problems that can result from influenza illness.
  • Antiviral drugs require a prescription from your doctor.
  • Having a fever caused by influenza infection or other infections early in pregnancy may be linked to birth defects in a baby. In addition to taking antiviral drugs, pregnant women who get a fever should treat their fever with Tylenol® (or store brand equivalent) and contact their doctor immediately.

When to Seek Emergency Medical Care

If you are pregnant and have any of these signs, call 911 right away:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • High fever that is not responding to Tylenol® (or store brand equivalent)
  • Decreased or no movement of your baby


Flu symptoms include:

Fever* (102-103° F)

Cough

Sore throat

Runny or stuffy nose

Body aches

Headache

Chills

Fatigue

Sometimes diarrhea and vomiting

*It's important to note that not everyone with influenza will have a fever.

Note: Because some of the symptoms of influenza and COVID-19 are similar, it may be hard to tell the difference between them, and testing may be needed to help confirm a diagnosis. Contact your primary care provider if you have flu-like symptoms to learn the best treatment for you


  Get your flu shot  


Image of young girl getting her flu shot

COVID-19 and influenza: Take care of yourself 

With COVID-19 and influenza, it is especially important to get the flu vaccine to help prevent the virus this season. Read more


More Influenza stories:

COVID-19 and influenza: You can help prevent the spread of both

Know your Wisconsin: Marshfield Clinic continues to lead vaccine research

Flu: A potentially serious disease for children

What’s new with the flu?

Breastfeeding while sick with cold, flu or COVID-19

The flu shot: Get it, got it, done


Additional Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP): Pandemic Influenza Update

State of Wisconsin Pandemic Web Site

Flu Webpage Right Rail