By Tamara Rolan, St. Luke's Certified Nurse Midwife
It’s that time of year again. The time that every healthcare provider dreads -- flu season. A typical flu season can run from October to May, with the peak of flu season hitting in January and February.
Each year, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) keep track of flu activity around the country. This year they are reporting higher levels of flu activity across the country, including right here in Idaho. Though it is important for everyone to protect themselves by receiving the flu vaccine each year, it is especially important for pregnant women.
Every year, the same myths about getting the flu shot resurface. Two of the more commonly listed myths include getting the flu from the flu vaccine or the vaccine causing autism in children. There are no studies to suggest that either of these are true. What is true is that pregnant women are more susceptible to complications if they contract the flu.
In just the past few months, there have been several high profile stories in the media about pregnant women becoming seriously ill and even dying from the flu. Changes to your heart, lungs, and your immune system make pregnant women more susceptible to flu related complications. In addition, getting the flu during pregnancy can increase your risk of miscarriage or premature birth.
Signs and symptoms of the flu include fever/chills, cough, sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, muscle/body aches, headache, and fatigue. Symptoms can progress rapidly, so it is important to contact your health care provider if you experience flu like symptoms. In addition to receiving the flu vaccine, good health habits can help stop germs. Frequent hand washing, avoiding others around you who may be sick, getting plenty of sleep, and eating a healthy diet are all ways to stay healthy during flu season.
For more information on the flu vaccine, you can visit the CDC here. If you are unsure about getting the flu shot, talk to your healthcare provider. St. Luke's nurse-midwives are always available to talk with you, and the flu shot is available if you decide to get vaccinated. You can contact the St. Luke's Nurse-Midwives and Women’s Health clinic here.