There’s a lot of discussion around the flu and why it’s important to get your seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines, especially if you’re pregnant. To understand why you should get these two flu shots during pregnancy, it might be helpful to know some of the reasons why pregnant women are more likely to get the flu during pregnancy.
One reason has to do with your immune system, the natural defense mechanism that helps protect you from illnesses and diseases in life. During pregnancy, your immune system isn’t as responsive as it was before pregnancy. Part of this is because your body is carrying something that it considers foreign and isn’t normally part of you (in this case, your baby). Usually when this happens, your immune system wants to protect you and will do its best to fight off this foreign element. However, since your body doesn’t want to reject your baby, it naturally lowers the immune system’s ability to defend and respond. But, a lowered immune system means you’re more vulnerable to illnesses like the flu.
A second reason is that pregnant women often spend much time around little children. And since kids spend so much time with other kids, are usually in close proximity to each other and are always putting things in their mouths, this makes them perfect little Petri dishes of germs and bacteria. These germs can eventually make their way to you. And as we know, your immune system during pregnancy isn’t as tough as it is when you’re not pregnant.
Another reason is that during pregnancy, especially in your second and third trimesters, you need more oxygen than before because you’re supplying it to both you and baby. Your growing belly puts more pressure on your lungs, making them work harder in a smaller space. You may even find yourself feeling some shortness of breath at times. Your heart is working very hard, too! It’s busy supplying blood to you and baby. All of this means your body is stressed during pregnancy. This stress on your body can increase your risk of getting an illness like the flu.
Unfortunately, getting the flu during pregnancy puts you and baby at special health risks. These risks can be very harmful and, in some cases, deadly. That’s why it’s very important to prevent this by getting both the seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines during pregnancy.
You’ll also do baby a service! By getting the two vaccines during pregnancy, you’ll be able to pass your immunity to your baby so that when he’s born, he’s less likely to get the flu in his first months of life.
Some pregnant moms might be concerned about vaccines potentially causing harm to you or baby. But given the issues as explained above, there’s a bigger chance of putting mom and baby’s health at risk by not getting the two flu vaccines during pregnancy. The benefits of the vaccines far outweigh any potential risk.
So please, get your seasonal and H1N1 flu vaccines. For more information, read our seasonal flu and H1N1 articles or talk to your health provider. You can also visit Flu.gov for the latest updates on the seasonal and H1N1 flu.