” PREGNANCY IS THE ONLY TIME IN LIFE WHEN YOU’LL FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE YOU HAVEN’T MET “
So you are getting married soon, or just got married, or are already planning for pregnancy. Hey! Either way, congratulations and best of luck for the both of you! Marriage and pregnancy is a beautiful and magical experience for nearly everyone. Having the person that you love by your side, and starting a family with them is the most beautiful thing that can happen to you in life. You really can’t ask for more.
However, speaking about marriage and pregnancy, I’ve seen first-hand that new couples have no idea regarding the responsibilities of marital health and a healthy pregnancy. Love is not just about saying that you love them, nor is it just about physical intimacy. Love and marriage is about connecting to someone so deep that two person is no longer just two person, but a unity. Thus, in order to ensure and protect this sacred connection, understanding the responsibilities of a healthy family is mandatory. I know, it’s a lot of work. And before you’re baffled by parenting methods, the first and most important thing is to prioritize the health of your family.
Pregnancy Vaccination For A Smart And Healthy Family
If you’re trying to conceive or already pregnant, chances are you already know about staying on top of your prenatal checkups and fitting in plenty of healthful foods, exercise and sleep. But have you talked to your doctor the vaccinations to get before and during pregnancy? You definitely should, and here’s why: Pregnancy weakens the immune system to support your growing baby (who your body considers a foreigner), which means as a moms-to-be you’re at greater risk of being infected with something and getting sicker. Pregnancy Vaccination helps ensure the well-being of your pregnancy, and thus your baby’s health.
Plus some vaccine-preventable diseases, like whooping cough, can be very dangerous for newborn babies. And if you’re considered high-risk or are traveling internationally, you may need even more vaccinations. Other vaccines, however, are considered unsuitable, sometimes dangerous, for pregnancy. How can you keep all this info straight? Start by reading this article or talking to us.
Vaccines You Need Before Getting Pregnant
Chicken Pox (Varicella Zoster)
Did you escape Chicken Pox as a child? Having avoided the misery of this childhood illness may have seemed like a lucky break at the time. However, this also means that you might be missing important immunity.
Having Chicken Pox as an adult can be quite serious. And if you’re pregnant, it’s not only uncomfortable. It could also mean serious trouble for your growing baby-to-be. If you get Chicken Pox during the first or second trimester of pregnancy, there is a slight risk for your baby to get something called Congenital Varicella Syndrome (CSV). The risk is highest if you get infected between 13 and 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Before you become pregnant, get checked by your doctor to see if you need the varicella vaccine. Women who are already pregnant should not receive the vaccine. Chicken Pox vaccine helps keep the pox at bay. If you have not had two doses of the chickenpox vaccine before, you’ll need two doses, four to eight weeks apart. Then, if you can, hold off on conceiving until a month after your second dose.
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR)
In addition to all three of these being very uncomfortable illnesses, rubella (aka German measles) can cause birth defects. A major complication of Rubella infection during early pregnancy is Congenital Rubella Syndrome (CRS). Mumps infection increases miscarriage risk and Measles increases the odds of preterm birth or a low-birthweight baby. It is important to keep in mind that you can’t get the MMR vaccine during pregnancy.
Keep in mind that if your vaccination records show that you got an MMR shot when you were younger, you are considered protected for life and don’t ever need a booster dose. However if you weren’t immunized, you should get vaccinated and then wait one month before trying to conceive. Not sure whether you received the MMR vaccination and can’t find your vaccination records? Get the shots now, before you conceive — even if you were vaccinated, it’s perfectly safe to get an additional dose.
If you’re at high risk for this viral infection that attacks the liver (For example if you’re a health-care worker and you come into contact with people’s blood and bodily fluids. Or if you’ve had more than one sex partner in the past six months. Hepatitis B virus is transmitted by blood contact, sexual activities, and even something as simple and often overlooked such as sharing razors, etc).
You’d be wise to make sure you’re up-to-date on this vaccine. Hepatitis B can be passed on to an unborn baby, and it can lead to liver failure and liver cancer. The vaccine comes in a series of three shots, but you don’t need to finish all three doses before conceiving. It’s safe to continue with the series during pregnancy.
Vaccines You Need While You’re Pregnant
Influenza (aka ‘The Flu‘) Vaccine
The flu vaccine helps prevent some strains of the flu, which can be very unpleasant for adults and much more serious (even deadly) to babies, small children, the elderly and anyone with a chronic medical condition or compromised immune system (including pregnant women). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all expecting women get the flu vaccine if they’re pregnant. However, pregnant women need to avoid the nasal spray vaccine, which contains live flu viruses.
Got vaccinated last year? You should still get a new shot this (and every) year— because immunity wanes with time, and the flu shot is reformulated every year because the Flu Virus is very sneaky and mutates quite fast. Women who get vaccinated during the second or third trimester, helps the baby to be protected from Influenza up to the first 6 months of life.
Also be sure to get vaccinated if you’re planning to get pregnant or are caring for a small child. Make sure your little one gets vaccinated, too.
Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (Tdap Vaccine)
Tetanus is an infection caused by bacteria that can enter the body through a break in the skin. A toxin made by these bacteria cause nervous-system symptoms (such as muscle spasms and seizures). Diphtheria and pertussis (also known as whooping cough) bacteria are spread through coughing and sneezing and cause severe respiratory problems. The adult vaccine is called Tdap for protection from all three: tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough.
All women should get this shot between 27 to 36 weeks of each pregnancy. However, if you’re at risk for whooping cough due to an outbreak in your community or if you get a deep cut in your skin and are due for your tetanus booster, the vaccine is also safe to get earlier in pregnancy. When you get the Tdap vaccine during pregnancy, you pass on some immunity to your newborn. The Tdap vaccine help protect your newborn before s/he’s old enough to get his own vaccine. The first of which he’ll get at when s/he’s 2 months old. Whooping cough is highly contagious and can be deadly for young babies, whose immune systems are still developing.
Read our previous article on Whooping Cough for more information.
Other Vaccines You May Need During or Before Pregnancy
You may also want to talk to us about getting these pregnancy vaccination if you meet particular risk factors, such as having a chronic illness or working or travelling to places where you may be exposed to the disease:
- Pneumococcal vaccines: These vaccines protect people who are at risk from the infections caused by this bacteria, including pneumonia, meningitis and ear infection.
- Hepatitis A vaccine: The hepatitis A virus causes an inflammation of the liver. If you have chronic liver disease, take medication with clotting factor agents or work in a lab where you’d be exposed to the hepatitis A virus, you may need this vaccination. You may also need the shot if you’re traveling to a place with increased risk of contracting the disease. This includes Mexico, Eastern Europe, South East Asia (including Indonesia) and Central or South America.
- Hepatitis B vaccine: The hepatitis B virus also causes liver disease, cirrhosis, and also liver cancer. Hepatitis B is transmitted through sexual contact, body fluids or shared hypodermic needles. It can be present in the body for many years without showing any symptoms. If you’re at high risk of hepatitis B (a health-care worker, dialysis patient, have had sex with more than one partner in the last six months or are traveling to a country where Hepatitis B is prevalent, you should get vaccinated during pregnancy.
- Meningococcal vaccines: Meningococcus bacterial infection can result in severe meningitis (inflammation of the membranes covering the brain). The disease can progress extremely rapidly, sometimes causing death in 24 to 48 hours. The bad news is the disease has a high incidence in South East Asia (including Indonesia). Bacterial Meningitis cases ranges from 18.3 to 24.6 /100,000 populations. You may also need to get a meningococcal vaccine if you are at increased risk of contracting the disease.
- Human Papillomavirus vaccines: The human papillomavirus (HPV) is responsible for most cervical cancers and genital warts. Every day, at least 1 female dies from Cervical Cancer and other HPV-related diseases in Indonesia. Currently, the series of three vaccines are recommended for kids 9 or older and young adults. However, the series of vaccines that protects against it has only been around for less than 10 years. Current recommendations from PAPDI, POGI, and IDAI states that women up to 55 years old need to be vaccinated. However, it is still unclear whether or not this vaccination is safe to be given during pregnancy. Experts think more research is needed to make sure it’s safe during pregnancy. If you’re 26 or younger, you should, however, get the vaccine after your baby is born.
Vaccines Your Partner And Family Should Get
Anyone who takes care of or spends a lot of time with your baby — including grandparents, siblings, caregivers, babysitters, day-care providers — should be up-to-date on their shots, too. Make sure your partner and other relatives (and your sitter if you have one) schedule a flu vaccine, since the virus is so prevalent and the formulation changes every year. And also make sure they are up-to-date on their Tdap and Dtap vaccines, since pertussis is highly contagious, and statistics show that most babies get whooping cough from a family member.
Husbands should also get vaccinated for Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Hepatitis B, since both are sexually transmitted. Males who are not vaccinated pose a risk for transmitting the virus to the female partner.
Services You May Need