Along with a balanced diet, plenty of exercise and adequate sleep, one increasingly essential component of being able to live a full and healthy life is getting vaccinated against preventable diseases. When pregnant, vaccines are even more important as they play a crucial role in protecting both your health and the health of your baby. As immunity is the primary factor shielding babies from a number of serious illnesses, it’s important that all vaccinations are up to date.
Vaccinated mothers play a very important role in increasing the chances of a healthy and timely birth. Through their vaccination, mothers are able to pass on a number of protective antibodies to their child. Such antibodies are invaluable in the first few months of a baby’s life when they are highly susceptible to certain diseases yet still too young to be vaccinated themselves.
There are a number of vaccines that you may wish to consider both before and during pregnancy. However, it is widely accepted that there are two vaccines specifically recommended for pregnant women i.e. the Influenza Vaccine and the Tetanus-Diphtheria and Acellular Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine. Both of these vaccines are considered extremely safe for mothers and babies and are highly recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the USA.
The Influenza Vaccine should be administered during either the first or second trimester of pregnancy. This is the safest and most effective time to for pregnant women to receive the Influenza Vaccination. As pregnant women are at significantly higher risk of catching the flu, the Influenza Vaccine is critical in safeguarding the health of your unborn child. Pregnant women with the flu also have much higher chances of developing problems in the later stages of pregnancy including premature birth.
The Tdap Vaccine is available for women between weeks 27-36 of their pregnancy and is designed to protect against pertussis (commonly known as whooping cough). Even if you’ve received this vaccine in the past, it is highly recommended that you receive it again during your pregnancy. By receiving the vaccination in the later stages of pregnancy, your body will produce pertussis antibodies that will subsequently be passed to your child via the placenta. These antibodies are invaluable in the first six months of a baby’s life before they are able to receive their own Tdap shot.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Guidelines for Vaccinating Pregnant Women”, CDC. August 2016, available at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pregnancy/hcp/guidelines.html, accessed 3 August 2017.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Influenza (Flu)”, CDC. 2 February 2017, available at www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/vaccine/pregnant.html, accessed 3 August 2017.
World Health Organisation, “Safety of Immunization During Pregnancy?”, Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety. 2014, available at www.who.int/vaccine_safety/publications/safety_pregnancy_nov2014.pdf, accessed 3 August 2017
M.D., Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, 1989.