What Pregnant and Breastfeeding
• Don’t add water. Rub until hands are dry.
Women Should Know
What are the symptoms of H1N1?
About H1N1 Virus
Symptoms are like seasonal flu and include the following:
What is this new flu virus?
This new H1N1 flu virus (formerly referred to as “swine
• Sore throat
flu”) was first detected in people in April 2009 in the
• Body aches
United States. This virus is spreading from person-to-
person, probably in much the same way that regular
• Chills and fatigue
seasonal influenza viruses spread.
• Sometimes, diarrhea and vomiting
What if I get this new virus and I am
What should I do if I get sick?
• If there is H1N1 flu in your community pay extra
We don’t know if this virus will cause pregnant women to
attention to your body and how you are feeling.
have a greater chance of getting sick or have serious
• If you get sick with flu-like symptoms, stay home,
problems. We also do not know how this virus will affect
limit contact with others, and call your doctor.
Your doctor will decide if testing or treatment is
We do know that pregnant women are more likely to get
needed. Tests may include a nasal swab which
sick than others and have more serious problems with
is best to do within the first 4-5 days of getting
seasonal flu. These problems may include early labor or
sick. Like regular flu, H1N1 flu may make other
severe pneumonia. We don’t know if this virus will do the
medical problems worse.
same, but it should be taken very seriously.
• If you are alone at any time, have someone
check in with you often if you are feeling ill. This
What can I do to protect myself, my baby
is always a good idea.
and my family?
• If you have close contact with someone who has
Take these everyday steps to help prevent the spread of
H1N1 flu or is being treated for exposure to
germs and protect your health:
H1N1 flu, contact your doctor to discuss whether
• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when
you need treatment to reduce your chances of
you cough or sneeze, or sneeze into your sleeve.
getting the flu.
Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
How is H1N1 flu treated?
• Wash your hands often with soap and warm
water, especially after you cough or sneeze.
• Treat any fever right away. Tylenol®
Alcohol-based gel hand cleaners are also good
(acetaminophen) is the best treatment of fever in
pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
• Drink plenty of fluids to replace those you lose
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs
spread this way.
when you are sick.
• Your doctor will decide if you need antiviral drugs
Try to avoid close contact with sick people. (If
you are pregnant and you live or have close
such as Tamiflu® (oseltamivir) or Relenza®
contact with someone who has H1N1 flu, talk to
(zanamivir). Antiviral drugs are prescription pills,
your doctor about medicines to prevent flu.)
liquids or inhalers that fight against the flu by
keeping the germs from growing in your body.
Have a plan to care for sick family members.
These medicines can make you feel better faster
Stock up on household, health, and emergency
supplies, such as water, Tylenol®, non-
and make your symptoms milder.
• These medicines work best when started soon
after symptoms begin (within two 2 days), but
Washing your hands often will help protect
they may also be given to very sick or high risk
you from germs
people (like pregnant women) even after 48
When washing with soap and water:
hours. Antiviral treatment is taken for 5 days.
• Use warm water, and
• Tamiflu® and Relenza® are also used to prevent
• Wash for 15 to 20 seconds
H1N1 flu and are taken for 10 days.
When using alcohol-based gel hand cleaner:
• There is little information about the effect of
helps the baby to develop his/her own ability to fight off
antiviral drugs in pregnant or breastfeeding
women or their babies, but no serious side
Is it ok to breastfeed my baby if I am sick
effects have been reported. If you do think you
have had a side effect to antiviral drugs, call your
with the flu?
doctor right away.
Yes. A mother’s milk is made to fight diseases in her
Is it OK to take medicine to treat or prevent
baby. This is really important in young babies when their
H1N1 flu while pregnant or breastfeeding?
immune system is still growing.
Please check with your doctor to discuss medication
• Do not stop breastfeeding if you are ill.
because every case is different. Mothers who are
Breastfeed early and often. Limit formula feeds if
breastfeeding should be able to continue to nurse their
you can. This will help protect your baby from
babies while being treated for the flu. Please check back
to the CDC H1N1 website often for the most recent
• Be careful not to cough or sneeze in the baby’s
face. Wash your hands often with soap and
When should I get emergency medical
• Your doctor might ask you to wear a mask to
keep from spreading this new virus to your baby.
If you have any of these signs, seek emergency medical
• If you are too sick to breastfeed, pump and have
care right away:
someone give the expressed milk to your baby.
• Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Is it okay to breastfeed if my baby is sick
• Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
with the flu?
• Sudden dizziness
• Do not stop breastfeeding if your baby is ill. Give
your baby many chances to breastfeed
• Severe or persistent vomiting
throughout the illness. Babies who are sick need
• Decreased or no movement of your baby
more fluids than when they are well. The fluid
• A high fever that is not responding to Tylenol®
babies get from breast milk is better than
anything else, even better than water, juice, or
Pedialyte® because it also helps protect your
baby’s immune system.
• If your baby is too sick to breastfeed, he or she
can drink your milk from a cup, bottle, syringe, or
How should I feed my baby?
For more information:
Flu can be very serious in young babies. Babies who are
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website:
breastfed do not get as sick and are sick less often from
the flu, than do babies who are not breastfed.
Breastfeeding protects babies. Breast milk passes on
Hawaii State Department of Health website:
antibodies from the mother to a baby. Antibodies help
fight off infection.
Should I stop breastfeeding my baby if I
think I have come in contact with the flu?
No. Because mothers make antibodies to fight diseases
they come in contact with, their milk is custom-made to
fight the diseases their babies are exposed to as well.
This is really important in young babies when their
Adapted on May 8, 2009 from:
immune system is still developing. Breastfeeding also