Vaccines help protect your body from certain diseases. During pregnancy, you pass this protection on to your baby. This is very important because it helps to keep your baby safe during the first few months of life until he can get his own vaccinations.
Here are some vaccines that are recommended before pregnancy:
- Flu. Get the flu shot once a year during the flu season (October through May). It protects you and your baby against both seasonal flu and H1N1. If you come down with the flu during pregnancy, you’re more likely than other adults to have serious complications, such as pneumonia.
- HPV. This vaccine protects against the infection that causes genital warts. The infection also may lead to cervical cancer. The CDC recommends that women up to age 26 get the HPV vaccine.
- MMR. This protects you against the measles, mumps and rubella. Measles can be harmful to pregnant women and cause miscarriage.
- Tdap. This vaccine prevents pertussis (also called whooping cough). Pertussis is easily spread and very dangerous for a baby. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant, ask your provider about getting the Tdap vaccine.
- Varicella. Chickenpox is an infection that causes itchy skin, rash and fever. It’s easily spread and can cause birth defects if you get it during pregnancy. It’s also very dangerous to a baby. If you’re thinking about getting pregnant and you never had chickenpox or received the vaccine, tell your provider.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends two vaccinations during pregnancy:
- Flu vaccine if you weren’t vaccinated before pregnancy
- Tdap vaccine during each pregnancy at 27 to 36 weeks
Not all vaccinations are safe to get during pregnancy. Do not get these vaccines during pregnancy:
- BCG (tuberculosis)
- Nasal spray flu vaccine (called LAIV). Pregnant women can get the flu shot, which is made with killed viruses.
- Varicella (chickenpox)
You should wait at least 1 month after getting any of these vaccinations before you try to get pregnant.
Important: If you didn’t get the Tdap vaccine before or during pregnancy, you can get it right after you give birth. Getting the Tdap vaccine soon after giving birth prevents you from getting pertussis and passing it on to your baby. This vaccine is also recommended for caregivers, close friends, and relatives who spend time with your baby. Your baby should get his first pertussis vaccine at 2 months old. Babies may not be fully protected until they’ve had three doses.
Talk to your health care provider about vaccinations you need before, during or after pregnancy. And remember, getting vaccinated doesn’t just protect you–it protects your unborn baby as well.
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