Vaccination plays a significant role in a normal healthcare and helps to prevent a number of diseases, such as the flu, hepatitis, rubella and chicken pox. Getting vaccines will help to protect you and your baby against serious diseases that can occur during pregnancy.
It is well known that when you are pregnant, you share almost everything with your baby. Meaning that when you get vaccines you aren’t just protecting yourself; you are giving your baby some early protection against diseases.
Many women are not aware of their immunizations and are susceptible to diseases that can harm them or their conceived child. Pregnant women must take advice from the doctors to find out which vaccines they may need during their pregnancy, before pregnancy or after the birth of the child.
It is necessary to have an accurate record of your vaccinations for your personal use. And by sharing this information with your pre-conception and prenatal healthcare professional you can get vaccinated for certain diseases before your pregnancy so that you can be on the safe side.
These vaccinations are recommended for women to have before, during and after pregnancy.
Most individuals are vaccinated against measles, mumps, and rubella during childhood. But if you haven’t received these vaccines you are recommended to have them a month or more before pregnancy.
The Tdap vaccine, which is administered to protect against a whooping cough is recommended during the pregnancy. Certain vaccines, such as the flu shot, can be given before or during pregnancy, depending on the season. It is also safe to receive vaccines right after delivering the baby or even while you are breastfeeding.
Anyhow, what is more, important is to take advice from your healthcare professional before getting vaccinated.
Rubella particularly can cause serious and lifelong complications for the child. This rubella vaccination is recommended to be taken at least one month before you plan your pregnancy.
Varicella is also known as chicken pox, and it is a common childhood illness. If it is contracted during pregnancy, it could cause birth defects or complications with the pregnancy. This vaccination should be received at least one month before your pregnancy.
The TDap vaccine protects the body against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough (pertussis), and it can be given either before pregnancy or after the 20th week of pregnancy. Whooping cough can be serious for any age group, but for your newborn, it is a life-threatening disease.
It is hard to even know if your baby is suffering from whooping cough because many babies don’t cough at all. Instead, it can lead to breathing disturbances and may turn them blue.
Because of whooping cough vaccine your body will create protective antibodies and pass some of them to your unborn child in your womb; these antibodies will provide your baby early protection against whooping cough.
During pregnancy, the changes that occur in your immune, heart, and lung functions will make you seriously ill if you contract flu. These flu infections can also increase the chances of serious health problems for your developing baby, such as premature labor and delivery.
Get the flu vaccine if you are pregnant during flu season as it will protect you and your baby from flu-related complications for months after the delivery. If you are planning for an international trip during the time of pregnancy, you should inform your obstetrician at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to your trip in order to discuss the vaccines that you have to take.
Hepatitis B is another essential vaccine that you should take because a baby whose mother has hepatitis B is at a high risk of getting infected with hepatitis B during delivery. Get advice from your healthcare professional about the test that you should do to know whether you are infected with hepatitis B and whether or not you should get vaccinated.
Doctors may recommend you to get some vaccines right after your delivery. Vaccinations after birth will help protect you from getting sick, and this will also help to pass some antibodies to your baby while breastfeeding.
Vaccination after pregnancy is especially important because if you get a disease while you are breastfeeding it will affect both the mother and the child.
Vaccines such as live-virus vaccines, should not be given during pregnancy, because they may cause harmful effects to the baby. But, several other vaccines can be administered to the mother later in the pregnancy (during second or third trimester), while others should only be given immediately after the delivery.
All vaccines are tested for safety, purity, and potency. But some people may be allergic to an ingredient in a vaccine, so always seek the advice of your doctor before having a vaccine.
Dr. Nuwanthi Fernando, MD
Member of the European Medical Writer’s Association