Despite the alien growing inside you, you may begin to feel like a science experiment during pregnancy for another reason — needles. Blood seems to always need to be drawn, and some women even have to give themselves blood thinner injections or test their blood sugar levels by pricking their fingers if they have blood clotting disorders or gestational diabetes. Had enough with the needles already? You may be wondering, "Do I need any vaccines while pregnant?" Turns out, you do, and then you can complete your transition into a pincushion.
Dr. Yvonne Bohn, OB-GYN at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, says that there are two vaccines recommended to women while pregnant. “The first is the flu vaccine — which is usually available in September — and is recommended to any woman who is pregnant during the flu season at any time during pregnancy. The second is TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) which is offered during the third trimester to prevent a newborn for infection with pertussis or whooping cough,” Bohn tells Romper in an email interview.
As far as any side effects you may have when you receive these vaccines while pregnant, they’re temporary and mild, according to Bohn, including mild soreness and tenderness in the skin and muscle where you received the injection, and low-grade fever or flu-like symptoms can occur. “They are not serious and will resolve,” she says.
If you don’t want to be vaccinated, that is an option, Bohn notes. However she says there are some risks. “A patient always has the right to decline a vaccination, but if a pregnant woman gets the flu virus, she can become very ill, which may require inpatient hospitalization. The risk for declining TDAP is more a risk to the newborn baby, where the baby will not have any immunity to whooping cough. Whooping cough can cause a serious respiratory infection in a newborn,” she warns.
Just so you’re not the only one who has to suffer through vaccines, some women make their friends and family get vaccinated as well before they even meet the baby. “We recommend that anyone who will be in direct contact with the baby for the first two months of life receive a TDAP vaccine. It is not a bad idea to get a flu vaccine if you will be in contact with a newborn during the flu season,” Bohn adds.
So you have options if you don’t want to be vaccinated during your pregnancy, just be aware of the possible negative ramifications of your choices, including possibly putting your child at risk for developing whooping cough. Otherwise, out of all the millions of things you have to have done to your body while you're pregnant, maybe two little vaccines aren’t too much to worry about.