Pre-pregnancy and Beyond: Vaccines to Help Protect You and Your Baby
Find out which vaccinations are recommended, whether you’re thinking about having a baby or you’re newly pregnant.
Whether you’re thinking about having a baby or you’re newly pregnant, there are a few things you can do to take care of your health. Reaching a healthy weight, quitting smoking and taking folic acid are just a few ways to stay healthy. It’s also important to stay up to date on your vaccinations.
If you can, visit your provider for a pre-pregnancy checkup before you become pregnant. This is a great time to ask questions and find out if your vaccinations are up to date—and if they’re not, when you need them. Getting vaccinations can help protect you from serious infections that could harm you and your baby.
Before or during pregnancy
If you are or may become pregnant during the flu (or influenza) season, it’s important that you get an inactivated flu shot as soon as it’s available. It’s the best way to protect against the flu, which can cause preterm labor or preterm birth. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting the flu shot by the end of October.
If you’re trying to become pregnant, your provider may recommend these vaccines:
- Measles, mumps and rubella (also called MMR). Most providers recommend this vaccine at least one month before becoming pregnant. It protects against measles, mumps and rubella, which may be harmful during pregnancy. Rubella is potentially the most dangerous, as it can cause miscarriages and birth defects if contracted during pregnancy.
- HPV (also called human papillomavirus). The CDC recommends that women through age 26 get the HPV vaccine. Your provider may recommend this vaccine any time before pregnancy, as you can’t get it while you’re pregnant.
- Chicken pox (also called varicella). If you haven’t had chicken pox or haven’t been vaccinated for it yet, your provider may recommend this. Getting chicken pox while you’re pregnant may cause birth defects, which can cause long-term health issues for your child. If you get this vaccine, get it at least one month before becoming pregnant.
- Depending on your health risks, your provider may also recommend vaccines for hepatitis A and B, pneumonia, meningitis, Haemophilus Influenzae Type b (also called Hib) before pregnancy.
If you become pregnant, your provider may recommend these vaccines:
- Tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (also called whooping cough). The Tdap vaccine is recommended for all pregnant women. It is a combination injection that protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. It’s best to get this vaccine during the third trimester (between 27 weeks and 36 weeks) of pregnancy.
- Depending on your health risks, your provider may also recommend vaccines for hepatitis A and B, pneumonia and meningitis during pregnancy.
As part of your pregnancy plan, make sure you talk with your provider about which vaccinations are right for you, and for the health of your unborn baby.
By Kristin Nelson, Contributing Writer
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Maternal immunization toolkit. 2018. Accessed April 2, 2020.
Womenhealth.gov. Preconception health. Accessed April 2, 2020.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vaccines before pregnancy. Accessed April 2, 2020.
March of Dimes. Vaccinations and pregnancy. Accessed April 2, 2020.
Last Updated: April 3, 2020