As a parent, you do everything you can to keep your child healthy. Keeping your child healthy starts before they are born. When you’re pregnant, you take vitamins, avoid things that can harm your unborn baby, and make sure you get exercise and extra rest. Did you know that another healthy thing to do is to get vaccinated before your baby is born? Some pregnant women may be surprised that their doctor is recommending vaccination, but vaccination keeps both you and your baby healthy.
Immunizations are life-saving and protect pregnant women and their babies against dangerous diseases. Getting vaccinated during pregnancy not only protects mothers from getting some dangerous diseases, but also protects their babies before they are born and in the first months of life before they can get their own vaccines. There are two vaccines that are recommended during pregnancy: the influenza vaccine and the pertussis or whooping cough vaccine. Let’s explore what these diseases are and why vaccination during pregnancy is important.
Influenza, or flu, is a respiratory disease that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. It is not a common cold and is more dangerous to pregnant women and their unborn babies. If a pregnant woman has the flu, she can go into labor early, which is dangerous for both the mother and the baby.
After a pregnant woman gets flu vaccine, she passes along protection to her baby. This protects her baby from flu during the first few months of life until the baby can get vaccinated. It is safe for a pregnant woman to receive the flu shot at any time during her pregnancy, and it will not harm her unborn baby. The flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years.
Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a lung disease that causes violent coughing attacks that lasts for weeks or months. When young babies get whooping cough they may stop breathing or cough so hard that they turn blue or vomit.
The pertussis vaccine is also known as Tdap. All pregnant women should get a Tdap during every pregnancy. It is given closer to the end of their pregnancy so they can pass protection to their babies before they are born. Getting Tdap during pregnancy protects you from getting pertussis during the time when your baby is most at risk. The pertussis vaccine also passes protection to your unborn child so they are protected during the time when they have the highest risk for serious illness or death. The Tdap vaccine is safe to get during pregnancy for both the pregnant woman and her unborn baby.
To make sure the new baby stays as healthy as possible, fathers, brothers and sisters, grandparents and other close contacts should make sure they also get the flu vaccine and that they are up to date on their pertussis vaccine.
If you have any questions about the vaccines you receive while you are pregnant, ask your health care provider. You can also learn more about vaccines you may need before, during or after pregnancy at http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/adults/rec-vac/pregnant.html.