We all know pregnancy can have a stressful impact on the body. Between raging hormones, stretching skin and a nauseated stomach, you might not feel very comfortable during the long months ahead. Of course, combine the physical challenges of pregnancy with an unsolicited illness, and you might feel completely incapacitated. Then your body goes from stress, to major overload!
In fact, during pregnancy your body is even more susceptible to illnesses, which can last longer and have a more severe impact. As Smart Parenting says, “Unfortunately, pregnant women are more prone to illnesses because their immune system is somewhat suppressed until the baby comes out.” Some expecting mothers even experience complications from illnesses, resulting in pneumonia, hospitalization and potentially premature labor.
As we head into these last few weeks of winter with spring just around the corner, the cold and flu season is hitting hard. People find themselves sneezing, coughing, vomiting and everything in between. If you’re a soon-to-be mother, how do you stay safe during the impending cold and flu season? Here are some ideas for how to avoid getting sick while pregnant.
Get a flu shot.
The best way to avoid the flu during the season is to get a flu shot. WebMD says, “The vaccine is the number one way to prevent this illness. You can get the shot no matter how far along you are—even the third trimester isn’t too late.” The flu shot is the only way to truly protect both you and your baby from the virus. Because it does not carry the live virus, you can feel safe knowing you will not contract the flu.
Invest in your health.
Another simple way to avoid sickness this upcoming season is to invest in your health beforehand. After all, preventative care tends to be a much safer and cheaper route than reactive care. Invest in your health by eating well, exercising when you can and taking your daily vitamins or supplements to make sure you and your little one are in the best shape.
Along with eating well and exercising comes staying hydrated. As American Pregnancy points out, fluids are essential to a well-functioning, healthy body because they wash out your system. If you want to stay in tip-top shape and avoid sickness, be sure to drink water as often as possible. Carry a water bottle around with you wherever you go to sip on it and stay hydrated.
Get plenty of sleep.
Of course, getting plenty of rest, relaxation and sleep is critical to your health and the baby’s development. You have a lot going on in your body, which means it needs as much rest as possible. When your body runs ragged, it weakens your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illness. In fact, you need approximately eight hours of sleep per night just to keep headaches, nausea, back paints, etc. at bay.
Wash your hands.
Germs are everywhere. Wherever you touch, germs are there, and can enter your body to infect you and your baby. However, you can avoid germs by getting into a habit of consistent hand-washing. Wash your hands when out in public, after coming in contact with contaminated surfaces and before touching your eyes, ears, nose and mouth. If soap and water is unavailable, carry anti-bacterial spray or wipes with you, too.
Wear a mask.
In more dangerous situations, it might be necessary for you to wear a mask while pregnant. While this might seem overly cautious, wearing a mask can actually play a huge role in keeping you safe from infection and illness. When headed to crowded places or places you know have experienced illness—such as schools, hospitals and transportation centers—consider bringing a mask with you just in case.
Talk to your doctor.
Above all, always be careful to talk with your doctor before making any big decisions about your health. If you feel yourself starting to come down with something, check to make sure any prescriptions or over-the-counter medications you take are safe and healthy for you and your little one. If necessary, check with your doctor for other advice and tips on how to avoid illnesses during the cold and flu season.
Being pregnant is challenging, but being sick while pregnant is almost impossible. As we finish out winter and head into spring shortly after, cold and flu season is quickly approaching. Keep these tips in mind so you can be sure to stay healthy and avoid getting sick during your pregnancy.