Vaccinations Are Important Before and During Pregnancy
If you are planning a pregnancy it is important to share your vaccination history with your medical provider so he/she can determine whether you need any vaccinations prior to becoming pregnant. One vaccine, called Measles, Mumps, and Rubella or MMR for short cannot be given during pregnancy. Rubella is a contagious disease that can be dangerous if you get it while you are pregnant. It can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or serious birth defects. The best protection against rubella is the vaccine MMR. Most women received this vaccination when they were children but if you aren’t up to date you’ll need to get the vaccine before you get pregnant and avoid getting pregnant for one month after receiving the vaccine.
Your baby gets disease protection from you during pregnancy and this immunity will even protect baby from some diseases for the first few months of life. The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all pregnant women receive the whooping cough vaccine, Tdap during the third trimester of each pregnancy.
Whooping cough is another highly contagious respiratory disease that can be deadly for babies. It is often thought of as a disease of the past but recent outbreaks have made it a growing health concern. Getting the vaccine (Tdap) is the best way to prevent the disease. When you are vaccinated, your body creates protective antibodies and passes some of them to your unborn baby.
Don’t Forget Your Flu Shot
Even if you are generally healthy, the flu can cause serious problems when you are pregnant. Your immune system, heart, and lungs all change and can function differently during pregnancy making you more likely to get severely ill from the flu. Pregnant women who get the flu are at higher risk of hospitalization, and even death, than non-pregnant women. Severe illness during your pregnancy can also be dangerous to your developing baby because it increases the chance of significant problems, such as premature labor and delivery.
Flu shots aren’t just a good idea for you. They are the best protection for your baby and everyone that comes into contact with your baby. Everyone 6 months and older needs a flu shot annually. The best way to protect babies under 6 months of age, is to make sure that everyone – 6 months and older – gets a flu shot annually.
Vaccines are Safe
Vaccines are thoroughly tested before licensing and carefully monitored after they are licensed to ensure that they are very safe.
Vaccines are among the safest and most cost-effective ways to prevent disease. They not only protect vaccinated individuals but also help protect entire communities by preventing and reducing the spread of infectious diseases.
All vaccines used in the United States are required to go through years of extensive safety testing before they are licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
FDA and CDC work with health care providers throughout the United States to monitor the safety of vaccines, including for any adverse events, especially rare events not identified in pre-licensure study trials.
There are three systems used to monitor the safety of vaccines after they are licensed and being used in the U.S. These systems can monitor side effects already known to be caused by vaccines, as well as detect rare side effects that were not identified during a vaccine’s clinical trials.
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Take Your Vitamins
Because many pregnancies are unplanned, all women of childbearing age are advised to take a daily vitamin containing at least 0.4 milligrams of folic acid. Research has shown that having enough folic acid before and during pregnancy decreases the risk of several birth defects.
If you suspect you may be pregnant and are waiting to get into your healthcare provider, call and ask for a prescription for a prenatal vitamin, or ask your pharmacist to recommend one.
Not all birth defects can be prevented, but there are a few things you can do to increase your chance of having a healthy baby:
- Start prenatal care early and see your doctor regularly
- Folic acid, folic acid, folic acid
- Avoid drinking alcohol at any time during your pregnancy
- Avoid smoking cigarettes. Quitting before getting pregnant is best
- Avoid marijuana use or other drugs
- Take precautions to prevent infections
- Keep diabetes under control
- Strive to maintain a healthy weight
- Discuss the safety of taking any medications with your doctor
- Talk to your doctor about getting vaccinations