Widespread Flu Affecting Pregnant Women

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Sandy Lown always has cleaning wipes handy.

“We are wiping down everything here at the den all the time – everything from counter tops to chairs to pens,” said Lown.

Lown works at the Teddy Bear Den, where she helps parents and parents-to-be that are economically disadvantaged. The last thing she wants apart of her program is the flu, so she’s cleaning as much as she can.

“You don’t want anybody to feel like that, but particularly if you’re carrying a child and they’re ill like that,” said Lown. “We just don’t want that.”

Doctor Kimberlee Mckay from Avera sees plenty of pregnant patients. She recommends they get a flu shot during any trimester of their pregnancy.

“The fact is that the people who were hospitalized tend to not have been vaccinated,” said Mckay.

The board-certified OBGYN also recommends washing your hands diligently. While 200 pregnant patients have been hospitalized with the flu nationwide this year, Dr.. Mckay says her patients have been pretty proactive.

“I feel like with pregnancy, women are extra cautious and they’re really good about hand-washing and gels and avoiding it,” said Mckay.

If a pregnant woman does catch the flu, it’s important to visit the doctor’s office.

“Influenza is very mean to pregnant women,” said Mckay.

Doctors will usually prescribe Tamiflu to these patients, a prescription drug often used to treat flu symptoms.

It’s important to contact a doctor sooner rather than later to keep your lungs healthy.

“It attacks the lungs and it affects how you breathe and so some patients even get sick enough where they end up on a ventilator,” said Mckay. “If mom can’t breathe, baby can’t breathe.”

While the flu is never fun for anybody, Lown says the women she works with bounce back pretty fast.

“Well, I feel like you know pregnant women who are using their program or are part of our program are hitting many bumps in the road, so the flu is just one of those other bumps that they might go through,” said Lown.

Doctor Mckay from Avera says some groups of people are more vulnerable when it comes to the flu. This includes infants, the elderly with chronic diseases, and pregnant women, especially those that have not been vaccinated.

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