Even with modern medicine and treatment, severe cases are aggressive and can cause fatal complications, so pneumonia during pregnancy is a serious issue. Of course, contracting illness is usually out of our control and certainly not a choice, but there are a few things you can do to prevent getting pneumonia.

The concept of getting pneumonia by not wearing your coat in the winter is an old wives’ tale. Pneumonia is a bacterial or viral infection that causes inflammation of the lungs, so it has nothing to do with the temperature. To prevent getting the infection during your pregnancy, you should make sure you’re all caught up on your influenza vaccinations before you conceive.

If you come down with any type of respiratory illness during your pregnancy, even a simple cough, monitor it closely. If it lingers in your lungs too long, it could cause pneumonia. If your cough is still around a week after your cold has subsided, see your doctor.

Washing your hands frequently, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a healthy diet can also help prevent the infection. Finally, while it might seem rude to avoid people because they’re sick, don’t be afraid to do so during your pregnancy. Telling someone you can’t see him or her because they have a cold is an acceptable excuse when you’re pregnant. Give them a phone call or Skype them instead.

If you do get pneumonia during pregnancy, your baby could be at risk for premature birth and low birth weight. Once your doctor diagnoses pneumonia, treatment will be aggressive. You may have to stay in the intensive care unit for a few days and take antibiotics until the infection is healed. Your doctor might even treat your family members to make sure the infection is fully cured. Make sure you follow your doctor’s orders exactly if you are diagnosed, or else you’ll be at risk for complications.

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