What Vaccinations Do I Need While Pregnant? 

Immunisation plays a critical role in safeguarding the health of pregnant women and their unborn children against infectious diseases. Before embarking on the journey of pregnancy, women are encouraged to ensure they are up to date with their routine vaccinations. This proactive approach minimises the risk of contracting diseases that could harm both the mother and baby. 

During every pregnancy, it is essential for women to receive vaccines against influenza and whooping cough. These vaccinations are pivotal in protecting the mother-to-be and her baby from severe illnesses and complications. Although serious side effects or allergic reactions to vaccines are rare, the benefits of immunisation during pregnancy far outweigh the potential risks. 

The dangers of infectious diseases in pregnancy 

Pregnancy increases the vulnerability of women to certain infectious diseases, posing significant risks to both the mother and her unborn child. Some of the most concerning infections include: 

COVID-19, where pregnant women face a higher likelihood of severe illness, which can also affect the unborn baby. 

Rubella and Chickenpox, known for causing birth defects and increasing the risk of miscarriage and stillbirth. 

Measles, Mumps and Hepatitis B, each associated with their own risks ranging from miscarriage to the transmission of hepatitis B to the baby at birth. 

Influenza and Whooping Cough (Pertussis), which significantly increase the risk of severe complications for both the mother and baby. 

Practicing good hygiene, avoiding travel to areas with high infection rates and minimising contact with sick individuals are key strategies to reduce exposure to infectious diseases during pregnancy. 

Immunisation before pregnancy 

For those planning a pregnancy, a pre-pregnancy health check-up with a doctor is advisable. This includes a blood test to assess immunity levels against diseases such as rubella, chickenpox and hepatitis B. Depending on the results, catch-up doses of vaccines may be recommended. Ensuring that household members are also up to date with their immunisations further decreases the risk of disease transmission to the pregnant woman and her baby. Importantly, women are advised to wait at least one month after receiving the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine or the chickenpox vaccine before becoming pregnant. 

Immunisation during pregnancy 

The best defence against influenza and whooping cough during pregnancy is vaccination. These vaccines provide the unborn baby with early life protection by transferring maternal antibodies. Immunisation against influenza is recommended at any stage during pregnancy, while the whooping cough vaccine is advised between 20 and 32 weeks gestation but can be administered up to delivery. COVID-19 vaccination is also recommended for pregnant women, with no evidence suggesting harm to the unborn baby (if you still have concerns about getting vaccinated against COVID-19, you should ask your doctor what the potential risks are and if you really need this type of vaccination). 

Immunisation after pregnancy 

For women who were not able to update their routine immunisations before pregnancy, it is safe and advisable to do so after giving birth. This not only protects the newborn from infections but also safeguards the mother’s health for future pregnancies. Immunisation during breastfeeding is considered safe and does not harm the baby. 

For your protection and for your baby 

Immunisation before, during and after pregnancy is crucial for the health and safety of both the mother and her baby, offering protection against potentially harmful infectious diseases. Whenever you have a concern, it’s essential that you talk with your doctor so that you’ll gain peace of mind and better protect yourself and your baby. 

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