If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, vaccination is an important step in keeping you and your baby healthy. During pregnancy, you share everything with your baby. By staying up to date with vaccines before and during pregnancy, you can pass along protection that will help protect your baby from some diseases during the first few months after birth. Vaccines given before pregnancy may also help protect you from serious disease while you are pregnant, including rubella, which can cause miscarriages and birth defects.

Talk to your doctor about other vaccines you may need before, during, and after becoming pregnant.

Recommended Vaccines Protect Against These Diseases:

Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine is the best protection against three diseases. It’s important to get the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine at least a month before becoming pregnant, in order to protect against rubella during pregnancy, which can cause a miscarriage or serious birth defects.

About measles:

  • Measles is a highly contagious disease caused by a virus that lives in the nose and throat mucus of an infected person.

  • It can cause a fever that can get very high, a distinctive rash, a cough, a runny nose, and red eyes. In some cases, it can also cause diarrhea and ear infection.

  • It can also lead to lung infection (pneumonia), brain damage, deafness, and death.

About mumps:

  • Mumps is caused by a virus that spreads through coughing and sneezing.

  • It typically starts with a fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, and loss of appetite. Then, most people’s salivary glands swell, which causes puffy cheeks and a swollen jaw.

  • Mumps is pretty mild in most people but can sometimes cause lasting problems, such as deafness; meningitis (swelling of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord); and swelling of the brain, testicles, ovaries, or breasts.

About rubella:

  • Rubella is a contagious disease caused by a virus.

  • It can cause a rash or fever, but many people have no symptoms.

  • Rubella can cause miscarriage or serious birth defects in your developing baby if you are infected while pregnant. Infected children can spread rubella to pregnant women.

You may have had MMR vaccine already. Before you become pregnant, you should first try to find your vaccination records or documentation of immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella. Another option is to ask your healthcare provider for a blood test to see if you’re already immune. If you are not immune, get MMR vaccine at least a month before you become pregnant.

Seasonal flu vaccine protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the upcoming season.

About flu:

  • Flu is a potentially serious, contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can lead to hospitalization and even death.

  • Changes in your immune, heart, and lung functions during pregnancy make you more likely to get seriously ill from the flu.

  • The flu may also increase the chances that your developing baby will have serious health problems.

  • Every year, millions of people get the flu, hundreds of thousands of people are hospitalized, and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu-related causes.

CDC recommends that pregnant women get a yearly seasonal flu shot by the end of October, if possible, to ensure best protection against flu. You can be vaccinated during any trimester of your pregnancy. There is a lot of evidence that flu vaccines can be given safely during pregnancy, though these data are limited for the first trimester.

Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap) vaccine protects against three diseases. When you get Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, your body will create protective antibodies against whooping cough (pertussis) and pass some of them to your baby before birth. These antibodies will provide your baby some short-term, early protection against whooping cough.

About tetanus:

  • Tetanus is an infection caused by bacteria that usually enter the body through breaks in the skin.

  • The bacteria produce a poison that causes painful muscle stiffness and lockjaw. It can be deadly.

About diphtheria:

  • Diphtheria is a serious infection caused by bacteria that spread through coughing and sneezing.

  • Diphtheria causes a thick covering in the back of the nose or throat.

  • It can lead to difficulty breathing, heart failure, paralysis, and even death.

About pertussis (whooping cough):

  • Whooping cough, also called pertussis, is a highly contagious respiratory disease that can be life-threatening to babies.

  • The number of babies who die from whooping cough each year in the United States varies, but it is typically between 5 and 15.

  • About half of babies younger than 1 year old who get whooping cough need treatment in the hospital.

CDC recommends pregnant women get Tdap vaccine during the third trimester of every pregnancy to help protect their babies from whooping cough in the first few months of life.

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