With the COVID pandemic continuing and flu season starting, it’s the perfect time to brush up on how to best support your immune system in pregnancy. Pregnancy is a time when your immune system is actually somewhat suppressed, so these tips are even more important.
Get your vaccines
Getting vaccinated is far and away the most important way to support your immune system when it comes to battling viral illnesses. Think of vaccines as a set of instructions in this way: while you could try and assemble a dresser without the instructions, it wouldn’t be the best way to go about it – and it’s the same with vaccines. All leading organizations that care for pregnant people recommend both the COVID and flu vaccines, because we know these illnesses are much worse in someone who is pregnant, both for them and their baby. You can get yours at any point in your pregnancy with the added benefit of passing on antibodies to your baby!
Get your ZZZs
Sleep literally helps your immune system work better – how amazing is that! People who don’t get enough sleep or are sleep-deprived are more likely to get sick and take longer to recover when they do. Why is it this way? There are likely a few reasons, but a major one is that your immune system releases protective markers in your blood while you sleep that help fight the bad bugs. Cells responsible for making antibodies and fighting against bacteria and viruses are also made when you sleep, so if you’re short on sleep, you are missing out. Talk with your OB provider if you are struggling to get enough rest, as we can help.
Lower your stress
Being stressed or in a poor state of mental health can actually make it harder for your immune system to tackle invaders. If you find you are struggling, do not hesitate to let your doctor or midwife know. There are lots of things we can do to help with antenatal anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns.
Yet another reason to exercise: a stronger immune system! During and after exercise, your body makes and releases more cells and messengers that help fight infection. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week. Check with your provider for exercises that work best and what you should avoid in pregnancy.
Eat a balanced diet
The typical Western diet of high fats and processed foods doesn’t do our immune systems any favors. Eating a balanced diet truly is what your body needs to grow your baby and fight off germs. That doesn’t mean you can’t have ice cream or fries – it’s just about moderation! Check out our Healthy Eating and Nutrition for Pregnant Women topic center for more information on how to eat right during your pregnancy.
What about supplements?
The truth is that there’s not great evidence to support any one vitamin or herbal supplement for the purpose of strengthening your immune system, especially in pregnancy. The most important one is actually your prenatal vitamin – beyond that, unless you have a true vitamin deficiency or medical condition, you likely don’t need anything else. Be sure to discuss any supplements with your OB provider if you do want to take something, so they can review its safety in pregnancy.
- The best way to boost your immune system is to get all recommended vaccines.
- Getting enough sleep is also very important, as is exercise and a balanced diet.
- Your prenatal vitamin is the best supplement you can take in pregnancy.