Getting the flu can cause serious problems for pregnant women. Even if you are healthy, changes in your immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to become very sick from the flu. Pregnant women who get the flu are at higher risk of hospitalization, and even death, than non-pregnant women. If a pregnant woman becomes severely ill from the flu, it can also be dangerous to her baby because it increases the chance for serious problems such as premature labor and delivery, and birth defects.
The best way to protect both yourself and your baby from the flu is to get vaccinated during pregnancy. The flu shot is safe, during any trimester, for both pregnant women and their unborn babies. It is also safe for women to get the flu vaccine while breastfeeding. In fact, breastfeeding also helps to protect babies because breast milk passes your antibodies to your baby, and these antibodies help fight off infection. If you missed getting the flu shot while you were pregnant, it is important to get vaccinated before leaving the hospital.
In addition, since infants cannot be vaccinated against the flu until they are 6 months old, it is important that all everyone who will be around your newborn be vaccinated against the flu. It is important to note that it takes approximately 2 weeks after vaccination for protection to set in. Learn more about why getting vaccinated against the flu is so important for both you and your baby.