Importance of Vaccinations During Pregnancy
If you’re pregnant, you want to ensure that your baby has the healthiest start in life. As a part of your care plan, you may be wondering about vaccines and if vaccinations are safe during pregnancy.
We’ve got the information you need about vaccinations, why they are important, and how they safeguard the health of both you and your baby.
Are Vaccinations Safe During Pregnancy?
Certain vaccinations are safe and recommended for pregnant women. These include the flu and Tdap vaccines.
Once you have a vaccination, you develop antibodies. These not only protect you, but they also are found in the placenta and therefore, help protect your baby. This keeps your infant from developing serious diseases.
What Are Some of the Vaccinations Pregnant Women Should Have?
We recommend that all pregnant women receive:
- A flu vaccination
- A Tdap vaccination
If you are trying to get pregnant, we want to speak to you to be sure you have all the vaccinations you need. There are some, such as the measles, mumps rubella vaccine (MMR) that should be taken before you get pregnant.
Therefore, it’s important to speak to us when you begin to think about trying to conceive.
Do You Need the Tdap Vaccine During Pregnancy?
Yes, we recommend that all pregnant women have the Tdap vaccinations.
What is the Tdap?
It protects you and your newborn against whooping cough, diphtheria and tetanus. This is one reason why it’s so important to have the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy.
What You Need to Know About Tdap
Here are some important facts to remember:
- The best time to receive this vaccine is between 27 and 36 weeks. Ideally, the earlier the better.
- Women should receive the Tdap during every pregnancy.
- The vaccine is more effective during pregnancy than during the postpartum period.
- Because the whooping cough vaccine doesn’t last long, we do not suggest it as part of your routine preconception care.
- Only one Tdap vaccination is recommended for each pregnancy.
Tdap protects against whooping cough, which is on the rise in the United States.
Whooping Cough is On the Rise
One of the reasons we always suggest the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy is that the cases of whooping cough in the United States have continued to rise.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, each year roughly 1,000 infants are hospitalized with whooping cough (also called pertussis). Between five and 15 die each year.
While infants can receive the childhood vaccine, this is not appropriate until the baby is two months old. Until then, they are vulnerable. It’s also the time when they are most likely to catch whooping cough.
What is Whooping Cough?
This highly contagious infection affects breathing. It gets its name because it’s characterized by severe cough followed by a “whoop” noise caused by breathing after coughing.
It often affects children and infants, who are most likely to die from the disease. This is one reason we recommend the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy.
Symptoms of Whooping Cough
Did you know that it may take up to 10 days to show signs of whooping cough after you’ve been infected? While symptoms are mild at first — they typically resemble the common cold—they gradually progress, becoming more severe.
These symptoms include:
- Nasal congestion and a runny nose
- Red, irritated eyes
- The “whooping” cough (or any kind of cough)
- Extreme fatigue
Those at highest risk of getting whooping cough are children under 12 months old who haven’t had vaccinations.
Flu Vaccinations During Pregnancy
We know that the flu affects pregnant women differently. They are much more likely to develop serious complications from the flu. Why? It’s due to changes that occur in the immune system during pregnancy.
We believe a flu shot is the best way to protect you and your baby during flu season. You can get a flu shot at any point during your pregnancy.
The Centers for Disease Control suggest that even though flu seasons may vary in length, you should get a shot by the end of October. This means you’ll be vaccinated before cases of the flu begin to rise.
Vaccinations You Should NOT Take While Pregnant
Some of the vaccines that are NOT recommended during pregnancy include:
- Chickenpox vaccine
- Shingles vaccine
- MMR vaccine (this should be taken before you are planning to become pregnant)
We’ll Guide You Through Which Vaccines You Need
As women providing health care for women, our goal is to ensure you and your baby have the healthiest life possible.
We’ll guide you through the vaccination process during every step. We know which vaccinations are safe during pregnancy and which ones will protect the health of you and your baby.
We encourage you to contact us for additional information.