If you’ve been reading our blog for some time, you may have noticed that we’ve talked a lot about the importance of having good health before pregnancy. The truth is that having a healthy baby starts well before you get pregnant. This is called your preconception health. Part of good preconception includes making sure that your vaccinations are up to date.
Why are vaccinations so important?
Vaccinations contain medicine that makes you immune to certain diseases. If you’re immune, you can’t get the disease. You can get vaccinations to prevent certain infections, like measles and chickenpox that can harm you and your baby during pregnancy. For example, measles spreads easily and can cause rash, cough and fever. It can be harmful during pregnancy and can cause miscarriage. Chickenpox also spreads easily and can cause itchy skin, rash and fever. Chickenpox during pregnancy can cause birth defects.
What vaccinations are recommended before pregnancy?
Your provider may recommend these vaccinations before you get pregnant:
- Flu (also called influenza). Get the flu vaccine once a year before flu season (October through May). Protection from a flu shot only lasts about a year, so it’s important to get a flu shot every year.
- HPV (stands for human papillomavirus). This vaccine protects against the infection that causes genital warts and cervical cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (also called CDC) recommends that women up to age 26 get the HPV vaccine. You can’t get the HPV vaccine during pregnancy, so if you need it, get it before you get pregnant.
- MMR (stands for measles, mumps and rubella). This vaccine protects you against the measles, mumps and rubella. Wait 4 weeks after you get an MMR vaccination before you get pregnant.
- Varicella (also called chickenpox). If you’re thinking about getting pregnant and you never had the chickenpox or the vaccine, tell your provider. Wait 1 month after you get this vaccination to get pregnant.
Your provider may recommend other vaccinations before pregnancy to protect you against certain diseases, depending on your risk. These include:
- Pneumonia. This is an infection in one or both lungs.
- Meningitis. This is an infection that causes swelling in the brain and spinal cord.
- Hepatitis A and B. These are liver infections caused by the hepatitis A and B viruses.
- Haemophilus Influenzae Type b (also called Hib). This is a serious disease caused by bacteria. It can cause meningitis, pneumonia, other serious infections and death.
Learn more about vaccinations before and during pregnancy at: marchofdimes.org