Here's The Deal With Tetanus Shots & Pregnancy

I'm not a fan of needles, but if there's one thing I learned during pregnancy, it's that you have to get over that fear real quick. Between the blood draws, the flu shots, and the (hallelujah) epidural, you're going to meet some needles. But pregnancy is also a time when you want to be as healthy as possible, so are some of those shots and vaccines OK, like the tetanus shot? You're not immune to infections just because you're pregnant, but can you get a tetanus shot while you're pregnant, or are the risks not worth the benefits?

You've probably already given vaccinations a lot of thought now that you're about to be a parent, but vaccinations are important for you, too. According to the American Pregnancy Association, there are certain vaccinations you should have before you get pregnant to keep you and baby safe, including the tetanus shot.

G. Thomas Ruiz, MD and OB-GYN at Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California, tells Romper that the tetanus shot is actually part of a vaccine bundle, TDap, which includes diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus vaccines. "This is offered at 26 to 28 weeks in all pregnant patients," Ruiz says. "The vaccine is safe and does not negatively impact the developing fetus." He also notes that the vaccine is preservative-free to minimize the risk of an allergic reaction. "In the event of an acute injury, a tetanus-only vaccine is safe, too. Side effects such as pain and swelling at the injection site, along with low-grade fevers, are common and do not affect the fetus," Ruiz says.

In fact, the tetanus shot is more than just a shot to prevent an infection resulting from an injury. Dr. Peter Chandler, Medical Director of Natividad Medical Center's obstetrics and gynecology department, tells Romper that the TDap vaccine is recommended for pregnant women in the third trimester of each pregnancy to provide maximum pertussis protection to their newborn. According to Forbes, pertussis is basically whooping cough, and it can be life-threatening to your baby. A 2016 study conducted by the University of Otago, and published in BMJ, found a correlation between mothers who received the TDap vaccine and a decreased risk of their babies being diagnosed with pertussis.

So whether you're having a tetanus shot because you came in contact with some rusty antique or because your doctor has recommended the TDap vaccine, know that it's safe for both you and your baby. If you're still concerned, talk to your OB-GYN or healthcare provider about your concerns so they can help you feel more at ease.