Pregnancy is the most important and the most beautiful phase in every woman’s life. It is important to protect the unborn baby and the pregnant women from various kinds of diseases and one of the best ways to do it is to provide vaccines. By knowing all about the different kinds of vaccinations and the time of vaccination during pregnancy, you would be able to keep both the mother and the unborn baby safe and free from any harmful diseases.
Importance of Vaccination During Pregnancy
Most pregnant women are often confused about the safety of vaccinations when taken during the time of the pregnancy. By taking the right vaccination a pregnant woman can not only protect her health but also take care of her baby’s health right from the time he or she is in her womb.
A mother with a very strong immunity can help create the very first line of defence for the baby against various illnesses and diseases. Also, the immune system of a woman becomes very weak during pregnancy as it has to support the growing baby inside the womb and this increases the risk of the mother catching an infection. So, to avoid any such infection pregnant women can take the right vaccination at the right time to protect their health.
Some of the diseases like whooping cough can be dangerous for any newborn baby. But by taking the vaccine, pregnant women can eliminate the fear of the baby getting the disease. The especially holds true if you are planning to travel outside the country during your pregnancy, but you can still keep yourself and the baby safe and free from infections during the travel by taking vaccines.
Vaccination Schedule During Pregnancy
Now that we have understood the importance of vaccinations, let us also go ahead and know what vaccinations are safe to be taken during pregnancy. As you are taking your vaccination you are not only protecting yourself but also protecting your baby from any serious illnesses. As a mother to be, you also know that when you are pregnant, you share almost everything with your unborn baby; so this means that when you take a vaccination you are not just protecting yourself but you are also protecting your baby.
Pregnant women can discuss the vaccination schedule with the doctor and if you are pregnant during the flu season you can get your flu shot between the months of November and March. Likewise, vaccination for diphtheria is often given between 27 and 36 weeks of gestation. Let us now have a look at the vaccinations needed and the time they need to be taken.
|Tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough (pertussis)||These vaccinations can be taken within the first trimester.|
|Influenza||Influenza shots need to be taken during fall. Can be taken anytime during pregnancy.|
|Hepatitis A||Can be taken if required. The vaccination is given as two doses and has to be taken with a gap of at least 6 months.|
|Hepatitis B||Vaccination can be taken as 3 doses given over six months.|
|Pneumococcal||Can take this vaccination if you are at a risk for Pneumococcal|
|Meningococcal B||Meningococcal B needs to be taken if you are 23 years old or younger.|
|Hib (Haemophilus influenza type b)||Can be taken anytime during pregnancy|
|Meningococcal ACWY (MenACWY, MCV4)||Need to consult your doctor before taking it|
What Vaccines to Get During Pregnancy?
Not all vaccinations are safe to be taken by a pregnant woman. Vaccines always come in 3 forms, the live virus, the toxoids and the dead virus. Women who are pregnant should never take live vaccines but can take a dead virus and toxoids vaccines.
There are certain vaccinations pregnant women can take during their pregnancy, which are safe for both the mother and the baby.
Flu Shots – Flu shots can be taken by pregnant women who are pregnant during the flu season. As this vaccine is made using a dead virus, it is safe for the baby as well. But make sure to avoid any kind of nasal flu vaccines as they are made using live virus.
Tetanus – Tetanus vaccination is another vaccine pregnant women need to take to avoid the risk of diphtheria or tetanus. These shots are normally given after 27 weeks of gestation and before 36 weeks. Pregnant women can also take whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy at the same time. By taking a whooping cough vaccine, you as a mother can pass on the antibiotics created to the baby even before he/she is born. These antibiotics will shield your baby for short-term against a whooping cough.
While the above mentioned are a must take vaccines, there are other vaccines like the Hepatitis B vaccine, Hepatitis A, and Pneumococcal vaccine are those you can consider taking before or during the pregnancy.
Other than these, there are other kinds of vaccines that you can only take before pregnancy. These vaccines are for preventable infections like MMR or chickenpox, the vaccinations for which can be taken beforehand. If you are planning for a pregnancy, you can get a blood test done to check if you are prone to any of such diseases and take vaccination if needed. Rubella vaccine, chicken pox vaccine and MMR vaccine can be taken as pre-pregnancy measures.
Right Time of Vaccination During Pregnancy
Most of the vaccinations are to be taken during the first trimester of pregnancy. The vaccinations that are administered in doses are to be taken before the arrival of the 6th month. The need for vaccination and the right time can be decided by the doctor based on how the pregnancy is progressing.
Pregnant women who might have missed any vaccinations before getting pregnant or after becoming pregnant can catch up on the same while they are breastfeeding. Mothers who are breastfeeding can also get vaccinations done as per their normal vaccination schedule is given to them.
It is also good to know if you are allergic to any kind of a vaccination. While serious reaction to any vaccination is quite rare, you can still discuss the same with your doctor and check if you are allergic to a specific substance the vaccination might contain. For example, if you are allergic to Baker’s yeast you should skip the hepatitis b vaccine and those who are allergic to eggs should always avoid the flu shots. In case you have decided to skip any kind of a vaccination due to your allergy, you also need to know an alternate way for the same.
Also, remember that you need to take the needed vaccinations at least 4 weeks before the tip in case you are planning to travel during your pregnancy. Your midwife might as well suggest some vaccines right after you have given birth to your baby. These vaccines will help pass on the needed antibiotics to the baby via the breast milk.
Now that we have learnt about different kinds of vaccinations pregnant woman needs to take before and during her pregnancy, at times you as a mom to follow a strict vaccine schedule. Do talk to your doctor about the right time of vaccination during pregnancy, in case of any confusion.
Medically Reviewed By
Maanasi specializes in health topics including diet and nutrition. A mother of an untiring seven year old, she enjoys nurturing her love affair with English. She is often found nestled with a book, plopped against a dozen pillows, smiling away at the brink of finishing yet another book of the many dozens, that adorn the shelves of her Mini Library!