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3-min read

Why Are Maternal Vaccines Important?

If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you should know which vaccines are needed at every stage of pregnancy, including before conception and after birth, to protect your child against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Updated:May 12, 2019, 12:34 PM IST
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Why Are Maternal Vaccines Important?
If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you should know which vaccines are needed at every stage of pregnancy, including before conception and after birth, to protect your child against vaccine-preventable diseases.
Immunisation is a necessary part of every person’s healthcare regime and, ideally, this regime needs to start even before the birth of an individual, through maternal vaccines. Maternal vaccinations are vaccinations taken by the mother of a child when the baby is in the womb. Maternal vaccines protect mother and baby from a host of diseases during gestation and after birth as well. This is because mothers who are immunised are able to pass on their antibodies to their baby in the womb - a protection that carries on to the first few months of a child’s life.
If you are pregnant or trying to conceive, you should know which vaccines are needed at every stage of pregnancy, including before conception and after birth, to protect your child against vaccine-preventable diseases.

Vaccines Before Getting Pregnant
Check and discuss your vaccine history with your doctor when you are planning to get pregnant. You will need to be sure that you have taken all the necessary vaccines that an adult needs.

Rubella:
You may have to be immunised against rubella, a disease which can be extremely harmful to fetuses if contracted by the mother. If you need to take a rubella shot, you will probably be prescribed to wait for at least a month before trying to conceive.

Hepatitis B: This is a serious disease that can be acute and chronic. Getting infected by the hepatitis B virus during pregnancy can lead to it being passed on to your child during delivery. Your doctor should discuss with you whether you need to be tested for hepatitis B and be vaccinated against it. Pregnant women are usually tested for the disease as part of their standard prenatal care tests. Women who already have hepatitis B can prevent passing on the disease to their child by getting the required shots. Babies born to mothers with the disease also have to undergo a course of shots after birth in order to help lower the risk of being infected by the disease.

Vaccines During Pregnancy
Pregnant women need to be vaccinated against two main diseases - the flu and whooping cough. Your doctor will include these vaccinations in your prenatal care.

The Flu: Although the flu may not seem like a serious enough illness to warrant a vaccine, pregnant women are more prone to severe complications arising from the disease. This can adversely affect the baby’s health, too. Getting a flu shot doesn’t just protect the mother from the air-borne illness and the baby in the womb, it also contributes to lowering the chances of a newborn getting the disease for months after birth.

Whooping Cough: Whooping cough, also known as pertussis, can be an extremely serious disease to newborns, often requiring hospitalisation. It can have dire consequences and be life-threatening. Newborns, however, are too young to get the vaccine themselves. That’s why it is recommended that mothers get immunised so that the antibodies are passed on to their child.

Vaccines After Delivery
In case you have not been immunised for these common vaccine-preventable diseases, you will be given the shots after you deliver. Keep in mind that these are safe to take even if you are breastfeeding your baby.

Measles, mumps, and rubella: The MMR vaccine will be administered to mothers who have not been immunised against the diseases. These diseases can have serious complications when contracted by babies and young children.

Chickenpox: Similarly, the chickenpox vaccine will also be given to mothers who have not been immunised against it. Later, your baby too will be given this vaccine.

Whooping Cough: If you haven’t been vaccinated for whooping cough during pregnancy (usually the third trimester), you and those who will be in close contact with the child will be given the vaccine after delivery to lower any risk of the disease being passed on to your child.

Side-effects Of Vaccinations
Vaccinations can have side effects, whether or not you are pregnant when you take them. However, these are generally mild and clear up within a short span of time. You may feel pain, soreness or a slight swelling where the injection was administered. Other side-effects include a low fever, tiredness and slight muscle ache.

(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat in the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you don a psephologist’s hat and turn into an election expert. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections and see our informative graphics. Elections = News18)
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