Pregnancy H1N1 Flu Facts

Safeguards and precautions to avoid H1N1 flu complications during pregnancy

Pregnant women might be more prone to H1N1 infection due to an already weakened immune system, however of more concern is a higher risk of developing serious complications such as pneumonia and respiratory distress if they fall victim to H1N1.

This new pandemic influenza strain, first emerging in April 2009, was shown to affect not only seniors and children as is the case with seasonal flu, but also became prevalent in young, healthy adults. Of primary concern is the threat it poses to pregnant women in their second or third trimester and first time moms that are within four weeks of giving birth.

H1N1 is an airborne virus, meaning it is transferred from person to person via droplets released in the air after an infected person coughs or sneezes. This allows the virus to enter the body by way of the mouth, nose and/or throat. It was discovered, after extensive testing, that the H1N1 virus is a different breed combining genes from avian, swine and human flu strains.

Most Common vs Serious Symptoms of Seasonal and H1N1 Influenza

Both H1N1 and seasonal viruses share alike symptoms. Early symptoms, in either case, may include a low fever and cough followed by some or all commonly associated signs like fatigue, sore throat, muscle aches, head aches and a runny nose.

More serious symptoms may include breathing difficulty or an uncommon shortness of breath (some pregnant women experience shortness of breath during weeks 22 to 26), chest pain, severe or persistent vomiting, sudden bouts of dizziness or disorientation, a fever of 39 degrees C or higher, severe abdominal pain and low blood pressure.

Recommendations for pregnant and breastfeeding women

Pregnant women who contract H1N1may be faced with the unfortunate possibility of experiencing severe symptoms that could require hospitalization, result in early delivery or, in an extreme scenario, miscarriage.

Health authorities are recommending pregnant women be vaccinated not only for H1N1, but seasonal flu as well. It is being strongly advised that they discuss options with their health care providers in order to make a decision regarding what is best for mom and baby.

It is also suggested that women who are breastfeeding receive the adjuvanted H1N1 flu shot to protect the health of both mother and infant.

The two types of vaccine available

Unadjuvanted and adjuvanted are the two types of H1N1 flu vaccines available.

Included in an adjuvanted vaccine is a substance that boosts the immune system thereby increasing the individual’s response to the vaccine. The unadjuvanted vaccine does not provide a supplementary or booster element. Adjuvanted vaccines are not new and are included in common vaccines such as hepatitis B and tetanus

Most Health Authorities are recommending pregnant women receive the unadjuvanted vaccine if the flu virus is not yet prevalent in their community, due to the fact that there is more safety data currently available. If the vaccine is not available and H1N1 occurs in their community women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant should talk with their doctors regarding getting the adjuvanted vaccine. It is generally known that with seasonal flu the fetus is protected against the virus in the womb. With H1N1being a new strain of influenza there is not presently sufficient data to determine whether or not the virus is able to cross the placenta.

What to do if you’re pregnant and you develop flu symptoms

If you suspect you have any symptoms of flu contact your health care provider immediately and do not accept a diagnosis of ‘there’s nothing to worry about, it’s just a mild case of the flu’. Pregnant women should be proactive when it comes to the health of themselves and the health of their unborn child.

Precautionary measures to guard against infection

Due to the fact that H1N1 germs are airborne they can reside on any hard surface. They are likely to be present on doorknobs and counters, for example, where they can be picked up on hands. By simply touching the face the virus is allowed to be transferred to the respiratory system. Public areas such as malls, supermarkets, public transit and walk-in-clinics are all breeding grounds for flu virus germs. If you have children attending school, germs are rampant in this environment so educate your kids on how to avoid, as much as is possible, being a carrier for the virus.

Life can’t come to a standstill because of flu season, and coming in contact with objects when out in public is unavoidable. Normal routines should continue as usual, but precautionary measures can be taken to lessen the transfer of germs, thus hopefully avoiding coming down with the flu.

  1. Avoid touching your face or your child’s face without washing/disinfecting your hands first and vice versa.
  2. Carry alcohol based wipes, in a pocket or purse, to clean handles of shopping carts, water taps and doorknobs prior to touching them.
  3. Thorough and frequent washing of hands with anti-bacterial soap, and the use of an alcohol based hand sanitizer (with a content of between 60 to 70 percent alcohol), when washing hands is not possible, can effectively remove viral germs from hands.
  4. Always wash your hands before breastfeeding, preparing food, taking and/or giving medications or removing/inserting contact lenses. Always wipe your hands with a clean towel or paper towel and replace and/or wash hand towels and facecloths daily.
  5. Wash your hands immediately after preparing food, using the toilet, changing a diaper, blowing your nose or your child’s and either taking care of or being in the near vicinity of an infected person.
  6. Avoid setting purses, diaper bags and backpacks down on floors in any public area. Do not place any of the aforementioned items on countertops, desks, beds or any other places in the house that germs could be transferred to. Floors are one of the worst breeding grounds for unwanted germs. Make sure to wipe down, preferably wash where possible, backpacks and bags frequently.
  7. Sneeze or cough into your sleeve instead of your hand and strongly encourage children to follow suit, as this will prevent germs from spreading.
  8. Disinfect all hard, common surfaces at home including doorknobs, counters, floors, countertops and baby changing area.

Bottom line

Be consistent with good habits during flu season. Encourage children and family members to follow your example. Eat healthy, drink lots of water, take prenatal vitamins and make sure other household members take theirs. Get enough exercise, rest and enjoy the outdoors whenever possible. Mostly, don’t become paranoid and stay in all winter because of a possibility of coming down with the flu. Odds are in your favour that you may not come down with it, too!

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Comments 29 comments

theguru-reports profile image

theguru-reports 7 years ago from Montana

Good hub and good info for an at risk group like pregnant women

Do you think this whole "THE FLU IS COMING THE FLU IS COMING" is a little over the top? Yeah, this particular mutated version is tough, but following normal healthy procedures should keep the not at risk population in good shape.

An interesting thought for you. And this ties along with the alleged Obama death squads. In addition to health care workers, pregnant women, and young children, the elderly is a huge at risk group.

What group is NOT on the list to get the vaccine early.

The elderly. Thinks that make you go hmmmm

Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Hi the guru-reports, Thanks for dropping by and yes I think it is a little over the top, just like all the 'bugs' in past years. There have been a few related deaths among pregnant women, I've read about a few in Florida, so it is always better to be on the safety side. As for Obama, I don't really keep up with political news (I probably should, but am just not so inclined... I don't really watch the news) so can't comment. From what I gather ages 50 and under to about 26/28 are not at high risk. Ah, to be young again.

myownworld profile image

myownworld 7 years ago from uk

very informative and relevant I must say, since half of us here in uk are scared stiff of the word 'flu' anyway! (btw. forwarded this to a pregnant friend too!) thank you for sharing...

Laurel Oakes 7 years ago


I just got over the H1N1 2 weeks ago, at first I thought I had a cold but it progressed so fast that by day 4 I was in bed and not getting up for over a week. Then when I finally started to feel halfway normal I woke up dizzy (ok thats all the time,we'll say dizzier) and ended up with an inner ear infection and sinus infection. Lets just say I am usually very healthy and this flu knocked me down. I had not been exposed to anyone with it, I'm thinking I picked it up in public, maybe the grocery store. Hand sanitizer is with me at all times now. Pregnant women really need to be on guard when in public or better yet try, and I know it is difficult but don't go out if you don't have to. Stay Safe

GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 7 years ago from USA

Carmen - nice article and full of good info and advice. However, 90% alcohol is a bit too concentrated for the uses you recommend, 70% should be max and 60% is best for hand wiping. While folks are at it, they should use wipes on the handles of those grocery store shopping carts before pushing them around, and a nice wipe of the car's steering wheel (often) is also a great idea. Stay safe and flu free. Gus

lorlie6 profile image

lorlie6 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca


Thanks for this timely hub. A pregnant woman I know was taken off life-support yesterday, her brain had died, but the baby was delivered. H1N1! The vaccines have yet to arrive here, and I now am concerned so for the dad. He is now left with 3 children and a newborn. It's a tragedy.

Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

myownworld - I'm glad you sent it to your friend, I had 'standing pneumonia with my last baby... not good at all. Thanks for reading and passing it along. Have a great day in the UK!

Hi Laurel - I'm so glad you're over it, knock on wood, my sister had it for more than 5 weeks. One of her lungs collapsed, it was awful. Staying home is fine when you can, but as I metioned we can't let ourselves become paranoid because others in the household can bring the virus indoors anyway. Just be careful and for godsake ladies, keep your purse on your shoulder. LOL Seriously, some talk show did a test on women's handbags, it was unbelievable the amount of bacteria and germs all over and even inside them. Yuk, I only carry a wallet now.

Gus - thanks for dropping by again, always good to hear from you. I found the alcohol content on a health site, but will definetly check into it now that you've passed this on, thanks very much. I did mention the shopping cart handles, but the steering wheel is good, especially if you've just had the vehicle in for repair. You stay safe as well.

Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

OMG lorlie6 I'm so sorry to hear about your friend and the young family she leaves behind. Her husband must be in a state of confusion and sadness. I hope he has family for support through this, he most likely went through part of his grieving already knowing that she was brain dead. If you see him please pass along my condolences and if you're comfortable doing so give him a hug from me. I'm a stranger to him, but I empathize with his tremendous loss and admire how brave he will be for his children. He should embrace his new child and envelope her with the love that would have come from her mommy's heart. Thank you so much for sharing this with all of us. Take care of yourself and your family.

fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 7 years ago from Southern California

This is so ironic, I just heard of another young woman that just lost her battle with the H1N1, but her baby survived. I hope everyone passes this hub on to anyone pregnant that they know, I certainly will. I wrote a hub on the H1N1 flu, maybe we can link them. However, I don't quite know how, if you do maybe you can link them. Very, very timely article.

Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Hi fastfreta, I'll see if I can figure out how we can do that. It shouldn't be too difficult for a couple of smart ones, such as ourselves, to figure out. Thanks for stopping by.

Neil Sperling profile image

Neil Sperling 7 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

Good information. One question can not be answered at this time though. "what are the long term side effects of the vaccine?" We'll see some time in the future if there are any, and we can not know until the future arrives!

Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

This is true, Neil. We won't know for a few years, but hopefully the vaccine will save the lives of even a few pregnant women.

Godslittlechild profile image

Godslittlechild 7 years ago

Really good information. My daughter is pregnant now. Thank you very much!

Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

You're welcome, you take care of your girl!

allie8020 profile image

allie8020 7 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

Great hub, Carmen! Lots of very useful info. I shared this hub with some twitter and facebook friends as well as examiner readers. I hope they share your article with their pregnant friends. Let's hope more moms and kids get the vaccines; so, many more deaths can be prevented.

Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Thank you for reading this hub. I'm so glad you shared it with friends who may be pregnant or know pregnant women. There have been too many young soon-to-be-moms become victims of H1N1 leaving behind dads faced with raising a motherless baby and/or siblings, and hopefully not resenting the baby for the loss. It is so important for pregnant women to have access to this vaccine.

habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia

Great info. My daughter is pregnant and works in a hospital. I worry all the time about her getting H1N1.

Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

As with all viruses when they arrive the media sensationalizes them to some degree, but with this one it is so important for pregnant women to protect themselves. I recently heard that if you were born prior to 1957 [which I was] you were most likely exposed to this strain. I worry about my daughter, as well. She isn't expecting, but has always had a problem with colds etc. Thanks for stopping by.

Madame X 7 years ago

Hello Carmen - this is a very interesting hub with a lot of info I didn't know. Have you heard about this? -

It's a site about how the H1N1 vaccine is causing pregnant women to abort. Some of the stories are heartbreaking. Also, a special law has been passed to indemnify the pharmaceutical company that developed and produces this vaccine - so no lawsuits.

Thanks for all the great info :)

Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

I knew about the law. As with most vaccines there is risk involved. But perhaps in the broader picture they do more good than harm... polio, tetanus, measles, rubella... they were most likely frowned on by some, but look how much good they have done. It is a personal choice in the end.

terrowhite profile image

terrowhite 7 years ago

HEy, this is a very informative hub, thanks for sharing the information on the fast growing disease like H1N1 :)

TheAllSeeingEye profile image

TheAllSeeingEye 7 years ago from England.

People should be very wary about taking vaccines. In some cases the vaccines are more dangerous than the flu itself. H1N1 vaccine contains mercury which is a poison for the body. There are also some inclination that the vaccine breaks down the immune system prior to the bigger flu epidemic ready to be unleashed...

Remember I said inclination. I can only put the idea into your head. If you want to investigate further be my guest. It is not my intention to force beliefs down people's throats. I give an idea or estimated guess.

The truth is out there... somewhere!

TheAllSeeingEye profile image

TheAllSeeingEye 7 years ago from England.

I found an alternative website of information that is available on the H1N1 vaccine. The biggest question is do you trust your government? The next big question is who profits from the allocation of pharmaceuticals?


habee profile image

habee 7 years ago from Georgia

My pregnant daughter just saw her OBGYN and he told her NOT to get the vaccine! I've always respected his opinion before, and he's delivered all seven of my grandchildren, but I'm just not sure about this.

Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Hi habee, my inter-net went down, sorry for the late response. H1N1 vaccine is a very controversial subject, especially for pregnant women. It would be a tough call to make, I'm sure your daughter will be okay. Do some searching of your own, I haven't gone to the link that was left above, but maybe you should check it out.


Carmen, excellent work! I like your hub very much.

Carmen Borthwick profile image

Carmen Borthwick 7 years ago from Maple Ridge, B.C. Author

Thank you so much, I'm glad you like it.

triosol profile image

triosol 6 years ago

Good Hub. Very Informative. Voted Up :)

Becky Puetz profile image

Becky Puetz 5 years ago from Oklahoma

Great information and advice. Thanks for sharing.

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