Vaccines help protect you and your baby against serious diseases. You probably know that when you are pregnant, you share everything with your baby. That means when you get vaccines, you aren’t just protecting yourself—you are giving your baby some early protection too. CDC recommends you get a whooping cough and flu vaccine during each pregnancy to help protect yourself and your baby.
CDC has guidelines for the vaccines you need before, during, and after pregnancy. Some vaccines, such as the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine, should be given a month or more before pregnancy. You should get the Tdap vaccine (to help protect against whooping cough), during your pregnancy. Other vaccines, like the flu shot, can be given before or during pregnancy, depending on whether or not it is flu season when you’re pregnant. It is safe for you to receive vaccines right after giving birth, even while you are breastfeeding. Be sure to discuss each vaccine with your healthcare professional before getting vaccinated.
Whooping cough (Pertussis): Whooping cough can be serious for anyone, but for your newborn, it can be life-threatening. Up to 20 babies die each year in the United States due to whooping cough. About half of babies younger than 1 year old who get whooping cough need treatment in the hospital. The younger the baby is when he or she gets whooping cough, the more likely he or she will need to be treated in a hospital. It may be hard for you to know if your baby has whooping cough because many babies with this disease don’t cough at all. Instead, it can cause them to stop breathing and turn blue.
When you get the whooping cough vaccine during your pregnancy, your body will create protective antibodies and pass some of them to your baby before birth. These antibodies will provide your baby some short-term, early protection against whooping cough. Learn more by visiting CDC’s Pregnancy and Whooping Cough website.
Even before becoming pregnant, make sure you are up to date on all your vaccines. This will help protect you and your child from serious diseases. For example, rubella is a contagious disease that can be very dangerous if you get it while you are pregnant. In fact, it can cause a miscarriage or serious birth defects. The best protection against rubella is MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, but if you aren’t up to date, you’ll need it before you get pregnant. Make sure you have a pre-pregnancy blood test to see if you are immune to the disease. Most women were vaccinated as children with the MMR vaccine, but you should confirm this with your doctor. If you need to get vaccinated for rubella, you should avoid becoming pregnant until one month after receiving the MMR vaccine and, ideally, not until your immunity is confirmed by a blood test. Take the Adult Vaccine Quiz to find out what vaccines you may need before becoming pregnant.
Did you know that your baby gets disease immunity (protection) from you during pregnancy? This immunity will protect your baby from some diseases during the first few months of life, but immunity decreases over time. Click the tabs in the section on Vaccines During Pregnancy to learn which vaccines are recommended during pregnancy and start planning ahead.