Delivery/Post-Partum and H1N1 – what do I do?
Breastfeeding may help protect newborns against influenza, but mom’s good handwashing habits before and after breastfeeding are just as important. If you are on medication for flu, you can still breastfeed. Your provider may suggest that you wear a mask when near your baby. If you have symptoms, you can still breastfeed; the milk is not contagious. But stay away from your baby if you are feverish.
Mothers who are infected with H1N1 when they deliver do not necessarily have to be separated from their newborn. A mother on medication should be able to breastfeed; separating her from her infant would not be advantageous. A mother who is actively sick with symptoms will not be very capable of caring for an infant and will need help, which will also help minimize contact and transmission. All caregivers should be vaccinated, and should also get a Tdap vaccination (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis).
Do I need to worry about outbreaks in schools?
Because of the H1N1 outbreaks in community settings (camps, e.g.) this summer, experts do expect schools to be breeding grounds for H1N1.
School closure is an option, but is not expected to be necessary. Students (or anyone) with flu symptoms should stay home.
Getting the pneumococcal vaccine can help reduce your risk of developing pneumonia as a complication of influenza infection.
For mothers infected with H1N1, masks are recommended in certain circumstances. Talk with your provider if you’re concerned. You should not need to wear a mask or gloves at home.
Do NOT attend a “flu party.” You should NOT purposefully infect yourself, or your children, with H1N1.
- Fever and respiratory symptoms need to be taken seriously. Call your provider if you have any symptoms or concerns. Ask them for specific instructions; for example, they may want you to put on a mask before entering their office to help prevent infecting pregnant women.
- Get vaccinated for both seasonal and H1N1 flu viruses. The seasonal vaccine will not protect you against H1N1.
- Wash your hands often.
- Maintaining good nutrition and getting plenty of rest will also help prevent illness.
- Continue to receive prenatal care from your provider.
- Everyone who is sick should stay home.
To get vaccinated, talk with your provider. OB/GYNs are supposed to receive vaccine to have on hand, in addition to clinics, pharmacies, and other typical venues for flu vaccine administration. If you have any concerns, about anything, at any time, talk with your provider – that’s what they’re there for!
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Check with your provider to see if immunization is right for you and your family.