Vaccines during Pregnancy

Pregnancy is usually a period of less pharmaceuticals and more natural remedies for most women.  However, there are some exceptions when medical experts do recommend taking vaccines during pregnancy for the immediate and future health of babies and mothers.  There are two recommended vaccines during pregnancy: Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis, commonly known as Tdap, and the influenza (flu) vaccine.

It is recommended that women ensure they are up-to-date on all immunizations prior to becoming pregnant.  If you are unsure where you stand on your vaccinations, talk to your physician.  Most of the time doctors can order blood tests to check for immunizations at the same time you are doing any pre-pregnancy testing, such as genetic or ethnic tests.  For those who are missing vaccines and are already pregnant, your OBGYN will probably recommend waiting until after childbirth and possibly after breastfeeding before getting these additional shots as they may affect your baby.

Vaccines during PregnancyThe two recommended vaccines during pregnancy, Tdap and influenza, are not harmful to your growing baby.  In fact, they are advised because they are helpful to both you and your baby.  Babies are born with very little immunities and rely heavily on support they’ve received from their mothers throughout pregnancy to initiate their immune system.  Late in pregnancy, mothers pass on antibodies that help protect babies in the early months of their lives.  Also, antibodies continue to transfer to babies through wholesome breast milk.  Still, your baby will eventually need vaccines to help him defend himself against potential life-threatening diseases.

In the first few months of life, whooping cough and the flu are very dangerous for babies.  Here’s a breakdown of why you should ensure protection with these two vaccines:

Tdap:  The tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine should be administered during each pregnancy, regardless of when the mother last received a Tdap or Td shot.  The vaccine is really to provide immunization to the baby, mainly to prevent whooping cough, which can severely affect newborns and infants.  Tdap is usually given to moms-to-be between 27 and 36 weeks during pregnancy.  New dads, grandparents and other caregivers should also have Tdap or a Tdap booster at least once in a lifetime when spending time around young children.

Influenza:  The flu shot is recommended for most people once per year, even pregnant women.  Getting the flu while pregnant can be particularly miserable, especially if you choose not to take any medications.  Plus, your baby will reap the benefits as well, especially if he is born during flu season.  The flu shot is made of an inactivated influenza virus.  Pregnant women should not take the flu mist, which is a small dose of the live influenza virus.

Most OBGYN offices offer these vaccines during pregnancy to make it simple for patients to ensure they are properly immunized prior to their babies’ arrival.   If you are traveling abroad or feel in you may require other vaccines during pregnancy, talk to your physician.  It may be OK to take other inactivated vaccines during pregnancy, depending on the circumstances.

It is definitely the season for the flu shot, and don’t forget to ask your OB about Tdap as well.  Vaccines during pregnancy can greatly protect you and your baby for a healthy start to life!

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