Guest Post by Jocelyn.
Fall and winter are absolutely my favorite seasons. There’s nothing I like better than apple picking on a lazy fall afternoon, baking apple pies during those early-to-dark evening hours and snuggling up by a soothing fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa and buttered toast in hand for the perfect wintry night. But with the arrival of these seasons, unfortunately, also comes the dreaded flu season. It’s always my fear that I’ll catch the flu and be robbed of precious fall and winter days in which I could be carving pumpkins or sledding mountains. It messes up exercise plans. It ruins your pattern of smart eating and throws you for a loop. And since pregnant women are in the “high-risk” category for catching the flu, knowing how to protect yourself is absolutely crucial in this phase of your life.
5 Ways to Prevent the Flu in Pregnancy
If the flu has no place in your schedule and life this fall and winter, here are some easy tips to follow to ensure you stay healthy and prevent the flu in pregnancy.
1. Avoid Germy Places
Knowing why fall and winter ushers in flu season can be essential in knowing how to avoid it. The flu virus is able to stay in a stable form and stay airborne longer in cooler temperatures. This means making sure to avoid places and locations where airborne flu virus particles are sure to be found can be one of the best methods for avoiding the flu from the very beginning. To avoid the flu when pregnant, you’ll want to carry around hand sanitizer with you everywhere you go. If you happen to be in an environment that’s less than clean, sanitize your hands whenever possible.
2. Disinfectant More, Touch Less
In addition to avoiding germy places, you should disinfect more and touch less. If you are having guests over, be sure to disinfectant common areas after they leave. If you’re working in an office environment, at a bare minimum, keep your desk regularly disinfected and try to keep up with door handles and communal places like break rooms. Be extra aware of how frequently you touch your face and try to make a conscious effort to do so less (preferably not at all).
3. Eat Well, Sleep Well, Be Well
Sleep, of course, gives your body the proper amounts of time to repair and produce those cells needed to fight off infections. You’ll help keep your immune system powered up simply by maintaining the amounts of sleep your body needs. Aim for 7 to 9 hours. This may be difficult in the second and third trimester, but sleeping is a pregnant woman’s best defense against catching the flu. Lack of sleep can make you more susceptible to the flu in pregnancy.
You should also make sure to eat extra plant foods like dark leafy greens and bright vegetables like red and yellow peppers. Your body will get a boost from those extra nutrients, vitamins and minerals that will keep your immune system fired up! (Plus, vegetables are part of a balanced diet, and you definitely need all those nutrients in pregnancy!)
4. Humidify, But Beware
Running a humidifier during this time of year is common to combat the dryness that is associated with cooler temps. It can also be beneficial for fending off the flu, as a dry nasal cavity can be more susceptible to infections. However, running a humidifier means regular cleanings will need to be done. The warm and damp environment in a humidifier can also harbor dangerous molds and bacteria. If not cleaned, those can become airborne and put your health at risk.
5. Keep Stress to a Minimum
Stress is one of the quickest ways to compromise your immune system. The holiday season also happens to one of the easiest times to stress. Combat this by taking preventative measures. Invest in “you-time” every day where you do nothing but relax, even if you don’t feel like you “need” to. You can also help minimize upcoming holiday stress by doing as much planning now as you can. Even if it seems too early, start working on your gift lists, your entertaining ideas, even menu plans. The sooner it’s done, the sooner you can stop stressing about it (consciously or subconsciously), and you’ll give your body that much more of a break and that much more of a chance to keep your immune system in top form.
Remember, prevention is the best medicine, and if you feel like you’re being overly cautious, that’s most likely a good thing! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, just do what you need to do in order to take care of your body and baby to the best of your ability. And while you’re at it, enjoy the coziness of fall and winter with happy thoughts of babe to come! Preventing the flu in pregnancy is pretty simple, isn’t it?
Special Thanks to My Guest Blogger:
Freelancer Jocelyn writes primarily regarding health in the family, particularly through eating and living organically and sustainably. When not writing about health through lifestyle and eating, you’ll find her at work writing about saving energy this winter by turning off central heating systems and using a portable heater.
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