Information on Influenza and Pregnancy

What can I do to prevent influenza?

Pregnant women should get vaccinated against seasonal influenza as early as possible.

Common-sense precautions also limit the spread of influenza and other illnesses:

  • Wash your hands frequently or used alcohol-based hand sanitizing gels, especially after coughing or sneezing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Stay home when you’re sick. Don’t return to work, school, or other activities until you’ve had no fever for 24 hours.
  • Cover your nose or mouth with your sleeve, the crook of your harm, or a tissue—not with your bare hand—when you cough or sneeze.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Don’t share food, drink, or utensils.
  • Eat smart and exercise regularly to support your overall health. 

What should I do if I get sick?

The symptoms of influenza include:

  • Fever of 100 degrees F or higher
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue

If you have these symptoms and you are pregnant, you should contact your pregnancy care provider immediately so you can receive anti-influenza medications as soon as possible and get other essential health advice.

What are signs of more serious problems?

Call 911 or seek emergency treatment if you have difficulty breathing or shortness of breath; feel pain or pressure in your chest or abdomen; suddenly get dizzy or confused; or experience severe or persistent vomiting. Seek help if your influenza-like symptoms get better, but then return with a worse fever and cough.

Is there medication for influenza?

All pregnant women with influenza symptoms should begin treatment with antiviral drugs as soon as possible. Early antiviral therapy has been shown to decrease the severity of symptoms, shorten the illness, and prevent serious complications from H1N1 influenza. The benefits of these drugs in the treatment of H1N1 clearly outweigh the risk of antiviral therapy.

Pregnant women who’ve been in close contact with others who have influenza-like symptoms should also receive treatment with antiviral drugs. When used to prevent seasonal influenza, antiviral drugs have been found to be about 70-90% effective against susceptible viruses.

Where can I get more information?

Have additional questions about influenza prevention, planning, and policies at the University of Iowa? Please e-mail us at webmaster@uiowa.edu. We’ll look for answers and respond directly or post information to this site.