Can You Get Flu-Like Body Aches in Early Pregnancy?

A woman in her first trimester of pregnancy sits on her bed and clutches her stomach with one hand and mouth with the other.
  • There are several reasons why you may experience flu-like symptoms when you’re pregnant.

  • During the first trimester of pregnancy, the body goes through significant changes that can cause aches, pains, and other flu-like symptoms.

  • If you develop flu-like symptoms while pregnant, it’s important to see a doctor, as these symptoms could lead to serious health issues if left untreated.

What Causes Body Aches in Early Pregnancy?

You may experience aches and pains early in your pregnancy. Some common early pregnancy pain symptoms can feel like:

  • Cramping
  • Muscle strain
  • Back pain
  • Headaches
  • Breast pain

There are several reasons why you could be experiencing the type of muscle aches and pains typically associated with influenza (flu) during your pregnancy.

Hormonal changes in the body

Most women will experience major changes to their bodies during the first trimester. These changes ensure that the body is able to support and grow a healthy fetus.

The bodily changes expectant mothers experience can sometimes result in aches and pains — which is fairly common in early pregnancy.

During this stage of your pregnancy, the body produces certain hormones — called progesterone and relaxin — that can cause:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Aches and pains
  • Joint pain or swelling

Pregnant women will also experience increased blood volume and changes in their blood vessels which can cause aches due to circulation issues.

During pregnancy, there are also changes to blood pressure which can cause flu-like symptoms.

Additionally, the weight of the belly pulls the spine forward, creating extra strain for the back muscles that can cause aches.

It’s worth noting that while some aches and pains are common in early pregnancy, persistent and severe pain is an indication that you need medical attention.

Pain could indicate an underlying health condition that may require treatment by a medical professional.

Viral infections like influenza (flu)

The second potential cause of flu-like symptoms is that you actually have the flu.

Due to changes in the immune system, pregnant women are more susceptible to infections like the flu.

Other viral infections that may cause flu-like symptoms are:

  • A common cold
  • Measles
  • Shingles
  • Chickenpox

What are the symptoms of flu during pregnancy?

If you develop some of these common flu symptoms, as well as body pain during your pregnancy, you may have the flu:

  • A fever and chills
  • A cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • A stuffy or runny nose

If it’s flu season or if you’ve been in close contact with someone who is feeling sick, there is a high chance that your symptoms are caused by a flu virus.

Although getting the flu may not feel serious, any illness during pregnancy can lead to complications.

Pregnant woman holds her stomach and makes a pained face while also holding her back.

What to Do if You Develop Symptoms of Flu During Pregnancy

If you have symptoms that feel flu-like and you are pregnant, it’s very important that you see a doctor or an obstetrics and gynecology (OB-GYN) practitioner.

Even if you have a general feeling of some of the symptoms listed above, you are at a higher risk of health complications that can affect both you and your unborn child.

A doctor or OB-GYN can help to rule out any concerns and prescribe pregnancy-safe medications to treat your symptoms.

If your flu-like symptoms worsen over time, it’s important to seek medical attention.

Some severe flu symptoms include:

  • A persistent high fever
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures

Can Pregnant Women Take Antiviral Medicines?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most pregnant women can take antiviral medicines.

However, during pregnancy, you should only take medications prescribed by your doctor.

These medications can help reduce the severity of flu and other symptoms and lower the risk of serious health complications, like pneumonia.

Complications during pregnancy could lead to problems like premature birth

A person receives a flu shot.

Can Pregnant Women Get the Flu Vaccine?

The CDC recommends that pregnant women get the flu vaccine — often called the flu shot or influenza vaccination — to help protect them and their unborn babies from getting influenza.

Flu vaccines can be given to pregnant women at any stage of their pregnancy.

Receiving the flu vaccine can help you to avoid flu-like symptoms as well as serious health problems like preterm labor.

How Can You Treat Flu at Home During Pregnancy?

While it’s important to see a doctor if you have flu symptoms, there are ways you can treat mild symptoms at home, including:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated and help your body fight the infection
  • Getting as much rest as possible so that your body can heal
  • Using a saline nasal spray for both a stuffy and runny nose
  • Gargling with salt water to relieve a sore throat
  • Using a humidifier to help relieve coughing and nasal congestion

Where to Learn More About Flu and Pregnancy Symptoms

Concerned that you are experiencing flu-like symptoms during your pregnancy? LifeMD can help.

Book a telehealth appointment with LifeMD today and speak to a board-certified physician or nurse about your flu symptoms.

Kimberli Hastings, CNP

Kimberli is a Family Nurse Practitioner, practicing in the areas of Family Medicine and Mental Health since 2019. She has worked in nursing homes, dialysis centers, and clinics. Kimberli’s goal as a healthcare provider is to improve her patients' lives.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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