Pregnant women are at greater risk from Swine flu. Here we explain what those risks are, the special precautions you should take and the safety information for H1N1 flu treatments.
When a woman is pregnant, her immune system is naturally suppressed. This means that pregnant women are more likely to catch flu and, if they do catch it, they are more likely to develop complications. Although complications are unlikely and most pregnant women will only have mild symptoms, it is important to take precautions.
The symptoms should be similar to those of regular flu. You will typically have a fever or high temperature (over 38C/100.4F) and two or more of the following:
- unusual tiredness
- runny nose
- sore throat
- shortness of breath or cough
- loss of appetite
- aching muscles
- diarrhoea or vomiting
Most pregnant women will have only mild symptoms and recover within a week. However, there is evidence from previous flu pandemics that pregnant women are more likely to develop complications.
- pneumonia (an infection of the lungs)
- difficulty breathing
These complications are more likely to happen in the second and third trimester. If a pregnant woman develops a complication of H1N1 flu, such as pneumonia, there is a small chance this will lead to premature labour or miscarriage. There is not yet enough information to know precisely how likely these birth risks are. It is, therefore, important to be well prepared and to take precautions against H1N1 flu.
Pregnant women are advised to take the seasonal flu jab, whatever the stage of pregnancy. There is no evidence that inactivated vaccines, such as the seasonal flu vaccine, will cause any harm to pregnant women or their unborn baby.
If you are pregnant, you can reduce your risk of infection by avoiding unnecessary travel and avoiding crowds where possible. Also, good hygiene is essential.
If you think you may have Swine flu, call your doctor for an assessment. Your doctor will advise you what to do if they think you have flu.