We try our best to avoid getting sick at the best of times. But for expectant mothers, steering clear of the common cold or flu is even more important. Not only are pregnant women more susceptible to illness, they are at an increased risk of complications from the flu.
According to the Medibank Better Health Index, as many as 76% of expectant mothers caught a cold during pregnancy in 2015-16, with 1 in 4 suffering from the flu – of which, both incidences were significantly higher than the percentage of the general population affected.
Here we explain why these figures are so high amongst expectant mothers, and what steps women can take to help prevent sickness during pregnancy.
Increased risk of illness with pregnancy
When you become pregnant, your immune response changes. This places the mother at higher risk of suffering from common illnesses like coughs, colds and the flu. While coughs and colds can be managed relatively easily through upping fluid intake and letting the body rest, the flu is more serious and can affect your unborn child.
How to help prevent colds and flu during pregnancy
- Get vaccinated: Flu vaccinations are highly recommended for expectant mothers and can be done safely during any trimester of pregnancy. Not only do they protect the mother during pregnancy, it will offer your baby some protection after birth as well.
- Wash your hands regularly: It sounds like common knowledge, but washing your hands regularly helps prevent the spread of germs. It’s recommended that you wash your hands throughout the day, particularly when coming into contact with people who could be unwell, communal areas, and food.
- Rest: You’re always at higher risk of getting sick when your body is run down. During pregnancy, with an already lowered immune system, it’s even more important to get sufficient sleep and put your feet up when you can.
- Stay hydrated: Keeping your fluids up is important, whether you’re pregnant or not. Not only does it keep you hydrated throughout the day but it also allows your body to flush out any toxins.
If you do happen to fall ill when you’re expecting, just remember that not all medications are recommended for pregnant women. The best course of action is to chat through your symptoms with your GP. That way you’ll be sure to get the right advice that’s specific to both you and your unborn child’s needs.