“I hadn’t had a cold in years, but when I was pregnant, I got a terrible one that lasted two weeks,” says Shannon M. Clark, M.D., an OB/GYN at UTMB Health in Galveston, Texas. “Growing a human inside of you takes a lot of your body’s energy, so it’s harder for you to kick a cold.” As if morning sickness and indigestion weren’t enough, expecting women also have an increased risk of catching a cold or the flu. When you’ve got a baby on board, your immune system is weaker than normal. That’s actually a good thing, says Dr. Clark, because it keeps your body from rejecting your baby-to-be, but it also means you’re more vulnerable to germs. Picking up a virus won’t just make you feel miserable; if it’s not treated properly, it can also be dangerous. Pregnant women who get the flu are at a higher risk of complications and even death. What’s more, if you have the flu early in your pregnancy, it can double your risk of having a baby born with a serious birth defect, according to the March of Dimes. All serious stuff. To avoid any germs that may be stalking you, follow these rules to protect yourself and your sweet nugget.
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Shannon M. Clark, MD, MMS is a double board certified ObGyn and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialist, and founder of Babies After 35. In her roles as a clinician, educator and researcher at UTMB-Galveston, she focuses on the care of people with maternal and/or fetal complications of pregnancy. Dr. Clark has taken a special interest in pregnancy after the age of 35, which according to age alone, is considered a high-risk pregnancy.
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