Health Topics

Influenza (Flu)

Influenza (Flu)

If you have any of the following signs, call 911 and seek emergency medical care right away:

  • Problems breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness or confusion
  • Severe or constant vomiting
  • Decreased or no movement of your baby
  • High fever that is not responding to Tylenol

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs.  It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death.  Influenza is NOT the same as a stomach "flu." 

Changes in your immune system, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to get seriously ill from influenza (flu).  The best way to prevent flu is by getting a flu vaccine each year.

Flu Symptoms

Influenza (flu) is different from a cold. Flu usually comes on suddenly. People who have flu often feel some or all of these symptoms:

  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)

If you have flu symptoms, call your doctor or clinic immediately.

Doctors can prescribe influenza antiviral medicine to treat flu. This medicine can shorten your illness, make it milder and lessen the chance of developing serious complications. Because pregnant women are at high risk of serious flu complications, the CDC recommends they be treated quickly with antiviral drugs if they get flu symptoms. Fever is often a symptom of flu. Having a fever early in pregnancy increases the chances of having a baby with birth defects or other problems. You should call your healthcare provider and tell them about your illness.

The flu shot is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women and their infants. Get the flu shot if you are pregnant during flu season. It's the best way to protest yourself and your baby for several months after birth from flu-related complications. Flu seasons vary, but the CDC recommends getting vaccinated by the end of October.

You can get a flu shot at any time, during any trimester, while you are pregnant. Flu shots have a good safety record; there is a lot of evidence that flu vaccines can be given safely during pregnancy.