Should you get vaccinated if you’re trying to get pregnant?
Just like eating a balanced diet, having vitamins, avoiding alcohol, and taking proper rest is essential; taking the necessary vaccinations before pregnancy also is equally important as it forms a vital part of the prenatal regimen. Remember, if you have taken the vaccinations before you conceive, you’re not only protecting yourself from infectious diseases but also reducing the risk of various pregnancy complications and protecting your unborn baby from acquiring any infections as well.
Do you know how vaccines work? Your body develops a defence system to combat foreign microorganisms that could cause infections and diseases. Vaccines teach your immune system to make antibodies that keep you safe from diseases. It's safer for your body to learn this through vaccination than by getting sick and then having to treat them. Once your immune system learns to fight a disease, it can often protect you for a long time. 1, 2 In this blog, we are going to talk about a few recommended vaccinations before pregnancy. So, if you’re planning to get pregnant, you must make a note of these important vaccinations discussed in the blog.
A vaccine is a preparation (in the form of injections, liquids, pills, or nasal sprays) that helps stimulate the body's immunity towards a particular infection or pathogen. It is prepared from an inactivated (or weakened) form of the causative agent. Being vital to immunizations that are the primary key to public and global health, it helps save millions of lives every year. According to the World Health Organisation, vaccines play an important role in reducing the risk of acquiring any disease. It helps your body’s natural defence system (immune system) to grow stronger and provides better protection against various foreign germs. 3, 4
It is important to note that there are approximately 20 life-threatening diseases like cervical cancer, cholera, mumps, rubella, influenza, yellow fever, and others. And we have vaccinations against these diseases, which helps people to live long and healthy lives. 3, 4
As an expectant parent, you always want the best for your child. And getting vaccinated is one of the best ways to not only protect yourself from infections but also the baby growing inside you. Take a quick glance at the reasons why vaccinations before pregnancy are important! 5, 6
Are vaccinations and pregnancy correlated? Is there a need to get vaccinated before you get pregnant? Yes!
Vaccinations have a direct relationship with your body’s immunity, which prepares your body to fight against any unwanted germs, infections, or diseases. Therefore, if you’re planning to get pregnant, make sure you’re up-to-date on all the essential vaccinations before pregnancy. As an expectant mother, you’re connected with the baby growing inside you. Therefore, protecting yourself and your baby from any infection or disease is your responsibility. 7
It’s important to get tested for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. If an expectant mother has hepatitis b virus, her baby has more than a 90% chance of acquiring and developing this chronic infection (unless the baby gets treated within 12-24 hours after birth). This disease gets transferred from mothers to offspring and getting vaccinated for hepatitis b is one of the most effective ways to prevent it from spreading to the newborn baby.
Highly contagious, measles is a viral illness that may result in serious complications during pregnancy. A measles infection may result in miscarriage and premature birth. Moreover, an already pregnant woman cannot be vaccinated against measles until she has delivered her baby. Therefore, it is essential to get measles vaccination before pregnancy. 10
Another highly contagious disease, mumps spread in various ways. It can travel through droplets in the air (when an infected person coughs or sneezes) and even spread through contact with urine. Therefore, if anyone with a mumps infection is sharing the same roof with you, make sure you wash your hands frequently (especially after using the washroom). An important fact to note here is that the symptoms of mumps appear a few days after being infected (within 12 to 25 days; not immediately).
Therefore, if you’re planning to conceive, get tested for mumps and have vaccination before pregnancy to avoid future complications. 11
Also known as German measles, rubella is a viral infection, which may cause no or mild symptoms in many people. It is not as severe as the infection caused by measles; however, it may result in serious health problems for unborn babies. If you’re an expectant mother or planning your pregnancy, make sure you check your vaccination record and get vaccinated. If you develop rubella during pregnancy, it can cause severe birth defects in the growing baby. The most common cause of congenital deafness is rubella and MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) is a safe and effective vaccine that provides protection against these infections.
Commonly known as chickenpox, varicella is a highly contagious infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It is a form of herpes virus, which can spread through contact (from one person to another) and through the air by a cough or sneeze. A pregnant woman who gets chickenpox is at greater risk of developing many serious health problems and may develop complications such as pneumonia. 14, 15
Flu (or influenza) is a serious viral infection that may make you feel really sick while giving you a runny nose and sore throat. It spreads through the air easily (from person to person) and can cause severe illness in pregnant and postpartum women. The virus can affect your lungs, nose, and throat causing respiratory illness, which has similar symptoms as that of a cold.
The flu virus may cause a lung infection called pneumonia, which can become serious if you’re pregnant. Therefore, it’s always advised to get a seasonal flu shot. Influenza vaccination before pregnancy is an effective way to protect your unborn baby from any seasonal flu. 16, 17, 18
If you’re planning to get pregnant, make sure you consult a doctor. During the preconception health checkup, your medical practitioner would suggest a list of important vaccinations before pregnancy. These vaccinations might differ as every pregnancy is different and so are the requirements.
Therefore, getting a consultation gives you a clear picture of what vaccinations you need to take before you conceive the baby. Hope this blog has been helpful and informative. If you want more information, read our other pregnancy-related articles as suggested below.