Getting the flu is bad enough, but getting the flu while you’re pregnant can be a nightmare. There is a greater chance that you will stay sick longer, there are only have a few medications that you can take to safely relieve flu symptoms, and your risk for developing flu-related complications is increased. That’s why the best thing for pregnant women to do during flu season is to take all possible precautions to avoid the virus, including getting a flu shot. Influenza, or the flu, is a very contagious virus that affects the upper respiratory system causing fever, muscle aches, cough, sore throat, runny nose and weakness. The flu usually makes its appearance in winter and early spring, but it can also strike in the fall and late spring as well. While the virus is a nasty thing for anyone to catch, with pregnancy and the flu it can be particularly risky because a woman’s immune system has weakened slightly during the pregnancy. Because of this, pregnant women are more likely to experience symptoms for a longer period of time, and their risk of developing complications, such as pneumonia, is increased. Studies have shown, however, that pregnancy and the flu poses little risk to an unborn child. The best way for pregnant women to avoid the flu is to get a flu shot. Flu shots are recommended for nearly all pregnant women and are usually given in October or November right before flu season starts. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself from the virus and can save you a lot of discomfort during the flu season. Other ways to avoid combining pregnancy and the flu include: Frequent hand washing: This is one of the most important things you can do for yourself to avoid illness. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after meals, after using the bathroom and frequently throughout the day. Washing your hands with antibacterial soap to get rid of germs is one of the easiest ways to stay healthy. Stay away from people who have colds or the flu: Common sense should tell you to avoid people who are already sick. Coming into contact with contagious individuals is an easy way to get sick yourself, so if possible, just avoid sick people altogether until they are no longer contagious. Keeping your hands away from your nose, mouth and eyes: Germs like to come in through these particular places, so try not to touch them. If you are unfortunate enough to get the flu, there are a few things that you can do to ease the symptoms and recover faster. Remember though, with pregnancy and the flu, there are many medications that you cannot take because they could be harmful to you or your baby. Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any medicine to treat your flu symptoms. The following treatments can help if you come down with the flu: -Acetaminophen for fever, aches, and pains -Chlorpheniramine, an antihistamine -Honey or other natural ingredient lozenges for a sore throat -Lots of rest -Increased fluid intake, especially water, juice, and tea Getting the flu is no fun. Getting the flu while you’re pregnant is REALLY no fun. Pregnancy and the flu just don’t mix, so do your self a favor by getting a flu shot and taking preventative measures to avoid the virus.