If you are currently pregnant or planning to become pregnant, your future child's health means everything. To give your baby the healthiest possible start, you want to pay attention to your own health as well as your baby's. Along with maintaining good fitness and nutrition, you'll want to follow the recommended schedule for pregnancy vaccines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as another powerful step to ensuring your baby's health. This is especially important while you are pregnant, because when your baby is born, she or he immediately inherits antibodies from you.
So, what are these pregnancy vaccines, and what should you know about them?
For Your Information
All vaccines given during pregnancy are inactive, meaning they do not contain living samples of the target microorganism. The main idea behind receiving specific vaccinations during pregnancy is to make sure you have antibodies to pass on to your children, and the recommendations are based on which diseases newborns are at the highest risk of developing.
That being said, there may be other vaccines that your doctor recommends based on your personal history. For example, if you have a history of chronic liver disease, your doctor may recommend a Hepatitis A vaccine. Women who plan on traveling abroad during pregnancy will also want to discuss this with their doctor to see if there are any recommended vaccines based on their destination.
You may also want to think about who your child's primary caregivers will be, apart from yourself. Because many of the conditions you will be vaccinated for can spread easily, it's important that anyone your baby is going to spend time with also receive vaccinations.
Apart from any special circumstances (like those discussed above), there are only two vaccines that are usually recommended during pregnancy:
- Tdap. This vaccine protects against whooping cough (pertussis), which is caused by a common bacteria that is easily spread through personal contact, coughing, and sneezing. In fact, whooping cough is the most common vaccine-preventable disease in the United States. It's recommended that you get the Tdap vaccine when you are 27–36 weeks pregnant, even if you were vaccinated before you became pregnant. You should receive this vaccine during the third trimester of each pregnancy you have.
- Flu. The flu shot is a very common vaccine that's recommended for most people. Pregnant women should get their flu shot as early as possible during flu season, which stretches from August to May in the United States. The common flu shot is recommended over nasal sprays, since the latter contains a live flu virus. Pregnant women who get sick with the flu during pregnancy face an increased risk of serious complications, including premature birth and several health problems for the child.
Receiving these vaccines will help ensure a healthy pregnancy and a cleaner bill of health for you and your baby.