When pregnant, you share everything with your growing baby.
Food, nutrients and even vaccines can help protect not just you from disease, but also your baby. Getting the wrongs vaccines or at the wrong time could potentially harm both expectant mother and child. Here are some vaccination guidelines to keep in mind for expectant mothers:
For starters, before becoming pregnant you should check with your doctor and make sure you’re up to date with vaccines. Discussing your vaccine history with the doctor will give both of you a better idea of your health level. This step can also determine which vaccines are unsafe for you during and shortly after the pregnancy.
Some vaccines, such as the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, should be given a month or more before pregnancy. If you catch rubella during pregnancy then you risk potential serious birth defects to your child. A blood test can also confirm if you’ve already been vaccinated for rubella.
If you do need to get an MMR vaccine, it’s wise to wait at least one month before trying to conceive. This will help reduce any risks and side effects than may come with the vaccine.
The Zika virus is present in many countries and there is currently no vaccine to prevent infection. The disease poses most risk for pregnant women and those that are trying to get pregnant. You can get the virus from mosquito bites or sexually transmitted by your partner. While the best method to avoid this virus is to avoid regions endemic with Zika, that may not be an option. Mosquito nets, insect repellent and long clothing can also help keep the bugs away.
During The Pregnancy
It’s highly recommended to at least get a flu vaccine and the Tdap vaccine while pregnant.
The World Health Organization conducted a study in 2009, during a particularly dangerous flu season. Pregnant women proved to be seven times more likely to suffer serious complications due to the virus.
The ideal time to get the flu vaccine is during your first or second trimester. It’s also safe to get the jab before your pregnancy if it’s flu season while you’re pregnant.
The Tdap vaccine is recommended between 27 to 36 weeks of your pregnancy. During this time, your body will produce antibodies than can pass along the vaccine to the placenta. This can help protect both mother and child from whooping cough, which is prevented with the Tdap vaccine.
Considering breastfeeding? All routinely administered vaccines are safe for women planning on breastfeeding. If you’re considering a vaccine during this process, be sure to discuss each immunization with your healthcare professional. This can help ensure that timing is correct for each vaccine.
The same concept applies when traveling while pregnant. As soon as you’re sure of the locations you’re visiting, speak to a physician to receive the necessary vaccines.
After your pregnancy your doctor may recommend some vaccines to help protect you from getting sick. If you decide to breastfeed, postpartum vaccination can help pass antibodies to the baby. According to the CDC, vaccination after pregnancy is crucial for women that didn’t get some immunizations before their pregnancy.
It’s important to take every precaution to make sure your body is strong and ready for pregnancy. When in doubt, consult your healthcare professional with any questions about vaccines and your pregnancy.
If you have any travel plans or vaccine history, talk it over with your doctor. They may make some suggestions that could help you during your pregnancy.
Written for Passport Health by Brianna Malotke. Brianna is a freelance writer and costume designer located in Illinois. She’s an avid coffee drinker and enjoys researching new topics for writing.