H1N1 influenza increases the risk of pneumonia and respiratory failure and may cause premature delivery or death in pregnancy, so pregnant women should take extra care in virus prevention measures and take the vaccine after the 3rd month of pregnancy.
The vaccine decreases the risk of contamination and attenuates its symptoms, but does not prevent infection from occurring. Therefore, pregnant women who have been vaccinated when manifesting flu symptoms such as fever, cough and sore throat should report to their doctor for an immediate assessment.
Symptoms of H1N1 in pregnancy
Symptoms are the same as the common flu, but more intense, and include high fever, headache, sore throat, malaise and some women report vomiting and diarrhea. Cough and body aches are also usually present.
To differentiate these symptoms from those that occur in the common flu, one must take into account the time of outbreaks or epidemics, if people nearby are also infected with this virus and also the intensity of symptoms, that h1N1 are much more intense and hinder daily tasks, being difficult to work or study, requiring absolute rest.
Warning signs to go to the doctor
These are warning signs:
- Difficulty breathing;
- Feeling of shortness of breath;
- Phlegm with traces of blood;
- Purplish fingertips or bluish lips;
- Decreased fetal movements.
If difficulty in breathing arises and fever does not give in with the use of medicines such as Paracetamol, one should go to the hospital immediately. The doctor may order blood tests, lung x-rays and ultrasound to check for pneumonia or other respiratory complications, and that the baby is ok.
How Is H1N1 Flu Treatment in Pregnancy
The treatment is exactly the same as outside it, with the use of medicines such as Tamiflu, which should be indicated by the obstetrician after the risk/benefit assessment.
It is very important that the pregnant woman sees a doctor or goes to the health center within the first 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, as it is scientifically proven that Tamiflu is most effective when it is taken in the first signs of H1N1 influenza.
Because they have an increased risk of preterm delivery, pregnant women should go to the hospital and if they are at the end of pregnancy, they may have to remain hospitalized until the disease is cured.
How to protect yourself from H1N1 flu
To prevent flu it is recommended to wash your hands constantly, avoid public places with crowded people like cinemas and malls, and stay away from individuals with signs and symptoms of flu or cold. However, the best way to prevent it is to take the vaccine at health clinics.
If the woman is infected with the H1N1 influenza virus at the end of pregnancy or during postpartum, in the first 6 months of the baby’s life, one should avoid being too close to the baby so that it is not contaminated, because this disease is more severe when it affects babies up to 6 months of life, who cannot be treated with Tamiflu and who also cannot be vaccinated.
Thus, the woman can continue breastfeeding, because there is no evidence that the virus passes through breast milk, however, whenever she is near the baby or breastfeeding it is safer that the woman always uses a surgical mask that is purchased in pharmacies to cover her nose and mouth, or remove her milk with a firecracker for another person to give to the baby.