Vaccines You Need Before Getting Pregnant
Before getting pregnant, you should be up-to-date on all of the recommended vaccines. This can help protect both you and your child from serious vaccine-preventable diseases.
Measles remains a common disease in many parts of the world, and the U.S. recently had outbreaks across the country. Measles can be serious in all ages. However, there are several groups that are more likely to suffer from measles complications:
- Children younger than 5 years of age
- Adults older than 20 years of age
- People with compromised immune systems
- Pregnant women
According to the CDC, measles may cause pregnant women who have not had the MMR vaccine to give birth prematurely, or have a low-birth-weight baby. Learn more.
The best protection against measles is the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine. If you aren’t up to date with the MMR vaccine, you’ll need it before you get pregnant. Most women were vaccinated with the MMR vaccine as children but confirm with your healthcare provider. You may need a pre-pregnancy blood test to see if you are immune to the disease. The measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine should be given a month or more before pregnancy.
Rubella, also known as German measles, is a contagious disease that can be very dangerous for you and your baby if you get it while you are pregnant. If a pregnant woman is infected with the disease it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, and/or birth defects such as heart problems, hearing and vision loss, intellectual disabilities, and liver or spleen damage. This group of health problems is called congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).
The best protection against rubella is the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella). Most women were vaccinated with the MMR vaccine as children, but you should confirm this with your healthcare provider. Women can have a pre-pregnancy blood test to see if they are immune to the disease. If you need to get vaccinated for rubella, the CDC states that you should avoid becoming pregnant for a month after receiving the MMR vaccine.
Another vaccine-preventable disease that can be harmful for your unborn baby or newborn if you get it during pregnancy is chickenpox (varicella). If you get chickenpox during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, your baby faces a slight risk of a rare group of serious birth defects known as congenital varicella syndrome. Birth defects are very rare when you get infected with chickenpox after 20 weeks of pregnancy; however, your baby could have problems with his central nervous system if you get infected in the third trimester of pregnancy. Additionally, if you get infected with chickenpox after 20 weeks of pregnancy, your baby might get shingles, caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, during the first 1 to 2 years of his or her life. Learn more from the March of Dimes.
If you are planning to become pregnant and you never had chickenpox or the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine, talk to your healthcare provider about getting vaccinated. You can also get a blood test to find out if you’re immune to chickenpox. The CDC recommends that pregnant women wait to get chickenpox vaccine until after they are no longer pregnant. Additionally, women should avoid getting pregnant for at least 1 month after receiving the chickenpox vaccine.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you are trying to have a baby, or are just thinking about it, to make sure you are doing everything you can to have a healthy child. Learn more about preconception health.