Swine Flu Risk during Pregnancy

Updated at: Feb 06, 2013
Swine Flu Risk during Pregnancy

Pregnancy in itself is a state whereby women become immensely vulnerable to catching infections. When it comes to H1N1 flu, they must adhere to some precautions. Which? Read to find out.

Editorial Team
PregnancyWritten by: Editorial TeamPublished at: Jan 30, 2013

Swine Flu Risk during Pregnancy

Pregnant women are at higher risk for flu complications and severe illness as compared to other healthy adults. H1N1 flu can cause serious health problems in pregnant women.


  • Pregnant women can become sicker as compared to other healthy adults with H1N1 flu.
  • The risk of hospitalization is higher in pregnant women.
  •  Complications of H1N1 flu include pneumonia, preterm labor and death.
  • H1N1 infection can cause serious problems for the unborn baby as well.

Consult your doctor immediately if have flu like illness or have come in close contact with a person who has flu. Antiviral medicines to treat H1N1 flu are recommended for pregnant women who have signs and symptoms of flu.
Prevention from H1N1 flu

Get vaccinated with H1N1 flu as it is the best way to protect against swine flu (when vaccines are available). Consult your doctor regarding seasonal flu shot as well. Both vaccines are needed to get fully protection against flu. Both the vaccines are recommended as they not only protect you but protect your baby as well who cannot be vaccinated upto 6 months of age.
The H1N1 flu vaccine is considered safe in pregnant women. The regular flu vaccine is being given to pregnant women for many years now and it has been shown to be safe and effective. The H1N1 flu vaccine is made in the same way as the regular flu vaccine.
Consult your doctor immediately if have flu like illness or have come in close contact with a person who has flu. Your doctor may advice Tamiflu® or Relenza® for 10 days to help prevent H1N1 flu.
Everyday steps to protect your health and the health of your family:
Follow the following steps regularly to protect your and your family’s health;

  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water for 20 seconds . This is one of the best way to prevent many common infections. If soap and water is not available use an alcohol-based hand gel to clean hands.
  • Clean all surfaces (such as door handles, remote control, tables, counters, hand rails and computer keyboards) often to remove the germs
  • Use tissues to cover mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing. Dispose the used tissue in trash as soon as possible. If you do not have tissue, sneeze into your sleeve or elbow.
  • Remember not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth as infection spreads this way.
  • Do not go near a person with flu like illness.
  • Do not attend public gatherings as the risk of exposure to H1N1 virus is increased.
  • Monitor your health for fever, other symptoms of the flu and how you are feeling.
  • Make a separate sick room in the house for the care of any sick family member and if possible have someone else to take care of the sick family member.

Consult your doctor immediately if have flu like illness or have come in close contact with a person who has flu. Antiviral medicines to treat H1N1 flu are recommended for pregnant women who have signs and symptoms of flu.

Special Precautions

If one is pregnant, one must lessen the jeopardy of infections by not entertaining in unnecessary travel and crowd whenever possible.

Pregnant women must religiously follow the suggestions and advices for good hygiene.
If by any chance, any of your family members or other relative is suffering from swine flu, then your doctor may prescribe you to use antiviral medication (usually Relenza) as a prophylactic (preventive) measure.

If you believe that you are suffering from swine flu then you must call your doctor for tests and diagnosis immediately. If at all your doctor confirms your doubt over swine flu, then you’ll be prescribed medications (antivirals) as early as possible.

However, if you don’t think you have any kind of symptoms of swine flu, then you must attend your regular antenatal appointments, in order to keep a tab on the progress of pregnancy.


If one is pregnant and has been diagnosed with swine flu then one will normally be given a course of antiviral drugs, which must be taken at its earliest best.
However, if one is suffering from any kind of complicated illnesses which has occurred due to influenza but does not have an underlying disease, then one can either take Relenza or Tamiflu. One must note that Relenza is prescribed as a first preferred option.
Relenza is inhaled with the help of a disk-shaped inhaler. It is prescribed for pregnant women because it can simply reach your throat and lungs, where it is needed the most. And it does not reach to any significant levels in the placenta or blood. Relenza must not affect one’s pregnancy or their growing baby.

On the other hand, Tamilflu must be prescribed instead of Relenza if one:

•    Has a health condition, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or asthma.
•    Is facing difficulty in taking an inhaled antiviral.
•    Has developed a grave or complicated disease because of influenza. In such cases you are most likely to be treated in hospitals.


Relenza is not prescribed to people with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as it can lead to various side effects such as headaches, nauseas or vomiting.


In a few number of cases, experts have seen that nausea can also be a side effect of Tamilflu.
However, if you take an antiviral and you are suffering from some of side effects then you must see your doctor on immediate basis in order to check for your health.




One can also take paracetamol in order to diminish their fever and other related symptoms. Experts suggest that it is also safe to consume in pregnancy.
But, pregnant women must not consume non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Nurofen).

Vaccination and Pregnancy
Pregnant women are offered swine flu vaccination as a priority. Experts suggest that swine flu vaccine is needed for all pregnant women at all stages.

There is no confirmation on the fact that inactivated vaccines will lead to any kind of harm to pregnant women or their unborn baby. Pregnant women, those who are at danger of swine flu are given seasonal flu vaccine every year.

Guidance on Breastfeeding

Recent mothers need to breastfeed their babies for all the advantageous reasons. However, when it comes to swine flu cases they should continue to nurse their babies. This must be done along with undertaking the appropriate treatment for swine flu. This is because breast milk is full of antibodies which are much needed by your infant.


They help in combating infections effectively.

•    Adults who are not infected with swine flu must take care of the child.
•    However, if a recent mother is too sick to breastfeed then she can pump and have somebody who can give her milk to the infant.
•    One must wear a face mask in order to keep the spreading of swine flu infection at bay.
•    One must be careful not to cough or sneeze on their infants face. One must follow good hygiene practices such as washing their hands often with soap.




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