During pregnancy, it’s natural to be concerned about your baby’s health. Eating well, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep can certainly all benefit your baby. But what about vaccines — can they protect you and your baby? Are there risks?
Contrary to some of the rumors you may have read, vaccines are not linked to birth irregularities.
Here’s what you need to know about vaccines during pregnancy, and how to protect you and your baby from potentially serious illnesses.
To date, there’s no evidence that being vaccinated during pregnancy can cause birth irregularities or developmental issues for the baby.
In fact, there are many benefits from vaccines during pregnancy, including protecting both you and your baby from serious complications associated with certain infections.
Most vaccines are safe during pregnancy. But some vaccines should be taken before you get pregnant or after you have delivered your baby.
Vaccines that include live viruses are not recommended during pregnancy because there’s a risk that the live viruses may cause infections in an unborn baby. However, even these vaccines haven’t been shown to cause birth defects.
- varicella (chickenpox)
- the flu mist vaccine, which is given via a nasal spray (though the flu shot, given as an injection, is safe and recommended while you’re pregnant)
If you plan to travel, try to get any vaccines before you’re pregnant, if possible. These vaccines, which are often needed for travel, are not recommended during pregnancy:
Discuss these vaccines with your doctor to determine if the benefit of the vaccine outweighs the risk. If you have one of these vaccines and then discover you’re pregnant, tell your doctor immediately. You’ll likely need to get a further dose if necessary after delivery.
Can vaccines cause side effects during pregnancy?
While vaccines during pregnancy aren’t linked to birth irregularities, it’s still possible to experience mild side effects after getting a vaccine. Some of the most common side effects include:
- muscle aches
- pain, swelling, and redness at the site of the injection
These types of side effects are temporary and tend to go away on their own. However, if any of these side effects concern you, it’s best to talk with a doctor about next steps.
Vaccinations before or during pregnancy are important for the sake of your health, as well as the health of your baby.
With vaccination, you reduce the risk of certain infections that could lead to serious illness and potential pregnancy complications. Your baby also benefits from some of the antibodies created from vaccines during the first few months of their life.
Even if you’re fully vaccinated during pregnancy, your baby will still need to follow their
You can help reduce these risks by getting vaccinated against these two viruses before or during pregnancy.
Ideally, you’ll be up to date on your
There has been no evidence linking the COVID-19 vaccine to birth defects. In fact, pregnancy is considered a
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 helps protect you from the disease and may help prevent severe symptoms if you do develop it.
If you have not yet gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, or are partially vaccinated, talk with a doctor or healthcare professional about the appropriate next steps based on your vaccination schedule.
During each pregnancy, the CDC recommends that you get both your annual flu and whooping cough vaccine. The whooping cough vaccine is known as the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis.
Vaccination against both whooping cough and the flu during pregnancy not only protects you from getting sick, but the immunity can also extend to your baby’s first few months of life when they are most vulnerable to these types of infections.
Such benefits outweigh any possible — and unfounded — claims for birth defects and developmental issues associated with whooping cough and flu vaccines. Always discuss information about vaccines with a doctor or healthcare professional.
The CDC recommends the following vaccines during pregnancy:
Whooping cough (pertussis)
Whooping cough is a serious, and
Babies and young children don’t start the whooping cough vaccination series until
Currently, the CDC recommends that all pregnant people receive a Tdap vaccine between
The whooping cough vaccine is considered safe. While some people may experience side effects, these
If you don’t already get an annual flu vaccine, now is a good time to start.
As with whooping cough vaccination, timing is key here in providing the optimal protection against the flu.
If you haven’t had a COVID-19 vaccination yet or need a booster, the CDC says it’s safe to get those during pregnancy.
In fact, the
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
- American Society for Reproductive Medicine
- Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine
Other vaccine recommendations
Other possible vaccines a doctor may recommend during pregnancy
- hepatitis A, especially if you have a history of chronic liver disease
- hepatitis B, if you have the infection, so that you may prevent transmission to your baby during delivery
- vaccines for meningococcal disease before pregnancy, and possibly other bacterial and viral infections if you plan on international travel during pregnancy
Additionally, if you have not yet received an MMR vaccine, your doctor may recommend getting the shot one month before trying to get pregnant.
This helps prevent possible birth defects, miscarriage, or stillbirth from rubella. Rubella is a serious and life threatening type of viral infection.
Most vaccines are considered safe during pregnancy. There’s no evidence to support any connection between vaccinations and birth irregularities or developmental issues for a baby.
While some vaccines may cause mild side effects, it’s important to know that these may occur outside of pregnancy, too.
Talk with a doctor or healthcare professional about any concerns you have regarding vaccines for you and your baby. They can make recommendations that will help ensure the best health possible for both parent and baby.