It’s Not Just a Bug – How Can Vaccinations Help Your Pregnancy?

September 27, 2019

Importance Of Vaccinations Before Or During Pregnancy

Pregnancy is an exciting stage in life with many changes and new information to take in. It can sometimes be overwhelming. Your obstetrician and maternal-fetal medicine specialists work together to address concerns you may have throughout your pregnancy and also manage your pregnancy to ensure the appropriate resources are provided and appropriate testing is performed. Vaccinations are often discussed before and during pregnancy to ensure a healthy mom and a healthy pregnancy.

Vaccinations Before Pregnancy

Vaccines can help protect the mother and the baby from different types of preventable diseases. If you are planning on getting pregnant, it is important to talk to a physician about the vaccines that you should consider before becoming pregnant. They may be able to address when to have these vaccinations and what types of vaccinations are beneficial before pregnancy. Some of these vaccines may include:

  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella Vaccine (MMR)

There are cases of measles reported in the US each year. Measles, mumps and rubella are all contagious diseases which are caused by a virus. Women who have not received MMR vaccine are at higher risk of contracting an infection during a pregnancy that may put their pregnancy at risk. Infection during pregnancy can lead to concerns during the pregnancy including preterm birth or pregnancy loss.

  • Chicken Pox Vaccine (Varicella)

Chickenpox is another highly contagious disease that can be quite common. Some individuals may have had this as a child and due to exposure are immune. Those who have not had this condition are at risk to develop this condition upon exposure. Vaccination is a helpful way to promote immunity when you have not had this condition. Maternal and fetal effects may be noted if infection occurs during pregnancy. Pregnant women who contract chickenpox are at risk of developing pneumonia. Fetal effects may include limb and muscle abnormalities, scarring of the skin, eye abnormalities, among other effects. 

– Note that these vaccines are often considered before pregnancy because they are described as live-attenuated viruses. This means they are weakened viruses. As they are live, but weakened viruses, risk to pregnancy cannot be ruled out. Due to this possible risk, it is recommended these be completed before pregnancy. 

  • Hepatitis B

Women who are exposed to the Hepatitis B virus, such as those who are working in a health-care industry, should get a vaccine before becoming pregnant. This viral infection can be passed on to the fetus during birth or cesarean section leading to lifelong infection. Individuals infected with Hepatitis B have an increased risk for liver problems, liver failure, and liver cancer. This vaccination may be performed before or during pregnancy.

– This is not a complete list of available vaccinations before pregnancy. You should discuss vaccinations with your primary care physician or obstetrician to ensure you have discussed all appropriate vaccinations before pregnancy. 

Vaccinations During Pregnancy

During your pregnancy, you should consult with your obstetrician before receiving any vaccinations.

Below are a few vaccines that may be considered during pregnancy:

  • Whooping cough (Pertussis)

Whooping cough is another common condition and can often be passed from un-vaccinated individuals within a family or community. Expecting mothers are recommended to get vaccinated with Tdap during pregnancy. This is because the mother’s body creates protective antibodies against Pertussis and passes this on to the baby, protecting the baby against Pertussis.

  • Influenza Vaccine

This vaccine is highly recommended to pregnant women especially during the flu season. Depending on the timing of your pregnancy, this may be recommended before or during pregnancy. It really depends on when flu season occurs during your pregnancy. This vaccine enhances the immune system of both the mother and the baby so they will be less susceptible to developing the flu.

– Individuals may also travel during pregnancy. It is important to consult with your obstetrician and determine what vaccinations may be appropriate for you before you travel. 

– This is not a complete list of available vaccinations during pregnancy. You should discuss vaccinations with your obstetrician to ensure you have discussed all appropriate vaccinations during pregnancy.