Pregnancy is a time fraught with worry for most expectant mothers, especially the first time. Often, the thought of getting immunized can be daunting for the fear of accidentally harming the unborn child. However, many vaccinations for pregnant women are not only safe but they are necessary to keep both mother and foetus healthy.
Sonja Rasmussen, with the US government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), says in a report, “Being immunized not only protects the health of a pregnant woman, it protects her baby from the day it’s born.”
When expectant mothers get vaccinated, the antibodies produced in response to the vaccine get passed on to their babies. So what shots do you need to ask your doctor about getting? Here are two important ones you should consider.
Influenza: Getting the seasonal flu vaccine should be a priority for everyone above the age of six months. It is also recommended by India’s gynaecological association, FOGSI. Pregnant women can be administered the influenza vaccine at any stage of their pregnancy. The flu and its symptoms can hit pregnant women especially hard and make them susceptible to complications that can sometimes be fatal. In less extreme cases, the flu can still interfere with the pregnancy, causing problems such as low birth weight or preterm birth. Babies under six months old can get seriously ill from the flu and suffer from complications such as pneumonia. Pregnant women often shy away from the flu shot, unaware that it is harmless and protects them and their baby from contracting the flu for up to six months after birth. While it does not eliminate the possibility of catching the flu, it does reduce the risk greatly.
During the H1N1 swine flu outbreak of 2014-2015, the Union Health Ministry recommended a flu vaccine to pregnant mothers once the number of cases had reached its peak. While reports mentioned only one pregnant woman had died due to the flu, all expectant mothers should get a head start and get the vaccine before the weather turns cold and flu season picks up.
Tdap: This vaccine protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a disease that can lead to serious complications such as breathing problems and pneumonia. It is a contagious disease and its main symptom includes violent coughing. Health experts generally encourage women to be inoculated with the Tdap vaccine for each pregnancy they have, which should be given to a pregnant woman in her third trimester of pregnancy but not past the 36-week mark. This ensures that the body has enough time to make the highest levels of antibodies.
One more bit of advice. If you want to ensure even less risk of illness being passed on to yourself or your baby, get other family members vaccinated as well.
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