So, you thought you were done with all those needles and shots when you left grade school. Now, you find yourself pregnant, and all of the sudden your health is of the utmost importance. For many women – this means getting up to date on some much needed vaccinations and then some.
Firstly, recognize that the best time to think about vaccinations is BEFORE you conceive. There are many things that are unhealthy to give to a woman who is already pregnant. In fact, the chicken pox and rubella vaccine can cause miscarriage and severe deformities to a fetus when given to a pregnant woman. If you are unsure whether you have had them or are immune to these diseases, have your physician do a simple blood test to find out. Then, make sure that you ARE NOT pregnant yet and get the vaccination. You do not want to miss out on this opportunity to be in perfect health and ensure you and your baby’s safety.
The National Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommends that all pregnant or about to be pregnant women be administered the flu shot. You should avoid the nasal flu vaccine and take the injection instead. Similarly, new guidelines recommend that women get a Swine Flu shot before pregnancy (or during) if they have not had it. Both of these vaccinations are made from dead viruses, which make them safe to take while pregnant as well.
If you work in a health care facility or with the general public, most doctors will also recommend that you are vaccinated against Hepatitis B, Meningococcal, Pneumococcal, and Rabies. For one thing, you shouldn’t have these injections during pregnancy as any of these diseases can be life threatening for mother and baby during gestation. The Tdap vaccine, which protects you from tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis, should be given every 10 years. If you are not pregnant, then getting this vaccination before becoming so is a good way to keep you and your baby healthy. Remember that you will be visiting more health care facilities during pregnancy, which are laden with germs, exposing you to a host of illnesses.
If you are getting vaccinated as a way to protect yourself and your unborn baby BEFORE pregnancy – you should wait at least one month before getting pregnant. This is part of the prenatal planning and ensures that no side effects will be passed on to your baby. If you are already pregnant, then keep in mind that you should never be given a vaccine that contains a live virus. Before any doctor or health facility tries to give you a shot, make sure that you are adamant that it is not a live virus. If you are unsure or uncomfortable then avoid the vaccine until after you deliver.
One good reason to get vaccinated before you get pregnant is because once a baby is born, these illnesses can be deadly to him or her. Often, newborns pick up illnesses from their parents – which are harmless to adults but fatal to infants. This way you know you are protected and you won’t be passing something on to your baby.