Why every mom-to-be needs a flu shot this season

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What’s one of the best things expectant moms can do for themselves and their unborn babies? Follow their doctor’s orders and get a flu shot.

As pregnant women, we’re naturally wary of everything we put in our bodies. From food to toothpaste, everything that crosses our paths goes under the microscope before we consume it. And while many a mom-to-be may feel that skipping vaccines and medications is safer for her little one, the side effects of the flu shot are nothing compared to getting slammed by a prenatal flu.

Read more: The pregnancy-safe way to beat cold and flu

Too risky a gamble

During pregnancy, there’s more strain on your immune system, heart, and lungs, leaving you more susceptible to serious illness and hospitalization. If you catch the flu while you’re expecting, you’re more likely to experience severe complications as well, such as dehydration, pneumonia, and breathing problems. Keep in mind that anything you battle likely has an effect on baby, too. The flu increases the risk of premature birth, low birth weight, and even miscarriage.

Does the flu shot harm baby?

The flu shot is approved for safe use in any trimester of pregnancy. Please note that the nasal spray is not approved for pregnant women. The vaccine not only gives moms-to-be some protection from this potentially life-threatening illness, but it safeguards baby once he or she is born. Newborns are at the highest risk for hospitalization from flu complications, yet they’re too young to be vaccinated against it. However, if an expectant mother receives the shot during pregnancy, she’ll pass antibodies onto her unborn child, which will help protect him or her for up to six months post birth.

Read more: Weekend births may pose greater risk for mom, baby 

What about mercury?

Some women may be concerned about trace amounts of a mercury-based preservative called Thimerosal. It’s been used safely in the U.S. for decades to protect multi-dose vaccine vials from contamination with germs, bacteria, and fungi. Some manufacturers distribute single-dose vials that don’t require the use of Thimerosal. The U.S. Centers for Disease control states that the “most recent and rigorous scientific research shows that Thimerosal-containing vaccines are not harmful.”

Still uneasy? Don’t sweat it: Some manufacturers distribute single-dose vials that don’t require the use of Thimerosal. If you’re feeling anxious about the use of this preservative, request a single-dose vial from your health care provider who can confirm it’s Thimerosal-free.

Now, your turn: How do you feel about receiving the flu shot while pregnant? Does this article change your mind? Share your thoughts with us and other moms-to-be in the comments below. 

Read more: 6 healthy tips for keeping baby’s nursery toxin-free

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