Influenza During Pregnancy: Symptoms, Prevention, And Care Tips

Influenza During Pregnancy: Symptoms, Prevention, And Care Tips

6 Mar 2023 | 6 min Read

Sudeshna Chakravarti

Author | 799 Articles

Influenza, more commonly known as the flu, is a contagious viral infection that affects your respiratory system and causes symptoms like fever, cough, and body aches. Recently, hospitals across India have reported thousands of influenza A sub-type H3N2 cases, and if you are expecting at the moment, you may wonder how to prevent influenza during pregnancy and what precautionary measures to take.

In this post, we have discussed more about this disease, how it affects your pregnancy, and the dos and don’ts to keep in mind to protect yourself against influenza during this crucial time.

Influenza During Pregnancy

Influenza During Pregnancy
Influenza is a highly contagious disease that can adversely affect your respiratory system / Image caption: Freepik

Influenza is a highly contagious illness that travels from one person to another and causes a widespread outbreak. When someone with the flu coughs or sneezes without covering their mouth and nose, the virus can spread through the air and on different surfaces.

Influenza during pregnancy is most likely to cause severe symptoms due to the low immunity of the expecting mums and may require hospitalisation in some cases.

Symptoms Of Influenza During Pregnancy

Unlike the common cold, influenza occurs with a sudden onset of symptoms, including:

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Persistent cough
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Body ache
  • Diarrhoea

Influenza symptoms may resolve on their own, but if they persist for more than a week without any improvement, you should seek immediate medical care. If left untreated, influenza can cause:

  • Ear infection
  • Abdominal pain
  • Pneumonia
  • Cardiac issues
  • Bronchitis

How Does Influenza During Pregnancy Affect Your baby?

Severe flu symptoms can adversely affect your baby’s development. High fever can cause neural tube defects and other complications in your developing baby.

Hence, if you notice any of the flu symptoms, make sure to consult your doctor immediately for advise. Also, avoid taking any medications without consultation as that can further affect both your and your baby’s health.

How Is Influenza During Pregnancy Diagnosed?

To diagnose your condition, your doctor may recommend one of the following influenza tests:

  • Rapid influenza diagnostic test (RIDT): This test determines whether you have an influenza infection by detecting the influenza viral nucleoprotein antigen in your blood. It can offer results in 10-15 minutes through its colour-changing and other visual signs. 
  • Rapid molecular assay: This test detects influenza by checking the presence of influenza virus nucleic acids through your upper respiratory tract specimens. This test gives results in 10-15 minutes.

Treatment Of Influenza During Pregnancy

Influenza During Pregnancy
Make sure to rest properly and only take medicines after consulting your healthcare provider / Image credit: Freepik

After confirming your diagnosis, your doctor may prescribe a pregnancy-safe antiviral medication. While these medications do not fully cure the flu, they can prevent your symptoms from worsening. 

Many healthcare providers prefer administering oral antivirals during pregnancy, such as oseltamivir. This is because oseltamivir has the least amount of side effects on pregnant or breastfeeding women.

How To Treat Influenza Symptoms At Home?

Your flu symptoms may last for up to 3-5 days or even a week. Make sure to take ample rest and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration during this time. 

Once your symptoms subside, consult your doctor about when to take the flu symptom to prevent this virus from recurring. 

How To Prevent Influenza During Pregnancy?

The best way to prevent influenza during pregnancy is by getting a flu vaccine, especially before the flu season starts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is safe for pregnant women to take flu shots anytime during their gestational period. 

Besides keeping you safe during pregnancy, the CDC states that the flu vaccine can also help protect your baby once they are born. The vaccine antibodies pass to your baby through the placenta during pregnancy, and after birth, they receive these antibodies through breast milk. This is crucial in protecting your baby in the first few months of their life, as they do not get the flu shot until they are six months old.

Additional Dos And Don’ts To Follow 

The apex health research agency has also suggested a list of dos and don’ts to follow to prevent influenza during pregnancy. Take a look at them!


  • Wash your hands with soap and water frequently 
  • Wear face masks outside and try to avoid crowded areas
  • Cover your mouth and nose properly while sneezing or coughing
  • Consume plenty of liquids to stay hydrated
  • Take only prescribed medicines by your doctor
  • Avoid high-touch areas
  • Add nutritious foods to your diet to boost immunity


  • Touch your mouth and nose with dirty hands
  • Shake your hands with affected people 
  • Don’t spit in public
  • Self-medicate with antibiotics as that can harm your and your baby’s health
  • Eat while sitting next to a crowded space

When To Contact Your Doctor?

You should be regularly updating your doctor with your symptoms and if there has been any improvement. In addition to this, if you notice any of the symptoms discussed below, seek medical care immediately by visiting the nearest hospital.

  • Decreased movement of your baby
  • Experiencing dizziness or confusion
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Inability to urinate for an extended period
  • Severe pain in muscles
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sudden chest or abdominal pain


We hope to have answered all your queries on influenza during pregnancy and precautionary measures to follow to prevent the spread of this illness. If you see no improvement in your health after 3-5 days of your diagnosis, then make sure to consult your healthcare provider immediately. In addition to this, take the flu vaccination once you have fully recovered to protect your developing baby. 


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Also Read:

HCG blood pregnancy test: When should you take an HCG blood pregnancy test? Tap this post to find out.

Ketones in urine during pregnancy: Learn everything about ketones in urine during pregnancy and helpful management tips. 

Pregnancy-related questions: You must ask these crucial questions to your doctor if you are pregnant. Tap to know what they are. 

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Suggestions offered by doctors on BabyChakra are of advisory nature i.e., for educational and informational purposes only. Content posted on, created for, or compiled by BabyChakra is not intended or designed to replace your doctor's independent judgment about any symptom, condition, or the appropriateness or risks of a procedure or treatment for a given person.