Pre-pregnancy vaccinations you must take immediately

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Pre-pregnancy vaccinations fight diseases that can be life-threatening to you and your unborn child. Our expert Dr Grover of Fortis La Femme, New Delhi, explains why

You and your partner maybe ready to start a family, but that does not necessarily mean that your body is, too. This is where pre-pregnancy vaccinations come into the picture.

Pre-pregnancy vaccinations physically prepare the body to fight diseases that can be life-threatening to you and your unborn child.

Pre-Pregnancy vaccination shots in India

There are six primary pre-pregnancy vaccinations available in India. A study by the Federation of Obstetric and Gyneacological Societies of India recommends vaccination counselling as a part of pre-pregnancy counselling.

Dr Vimal Grover, Director of Obstetrics & Gynecology at Fortis La Femme, New Delhi, spoke to theindusparent.com. He says, “While vaccines for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) are absolutely necessary, vaccines for chicken pox, Human papillomavirus (HPV), TDAP and flu are optional.”

pre-pregnancy vaccinations

Pre-pregnancy vaccinations physically prepare the body to fight diseases that can be life-threatening to you and your unborn child.

Hepatitis A & B vaccine

Definition of the disease: While Hepatitis A is a liver disease that spreads through contaminated water or food. Hepatitis B is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, nausea, fatigue with severe cases suffering from liver cancer.

Effects of the disease: If a woman contracts any of the two, there is a high possibility that the virus strain will stay in her body without her knowledge and be passed on to the unborn child.

Dosage: “Women are usually given its complete course. The first dose is to be taken at least six to seven months before planning a pregnancy,” says Dr Grover. He also adds that it is better given before pregnancy but if required, it can be given during pregnancy. “All pregnant women should also be screened for hepatitis B and hepatitis C during pregnancy,” he says.

Continue reading to know more about MMR and TDAP boosters

Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine

Definition of the disease: These three are contagious illnesses and extremely uncomfortable.

Effects of the disease: They can lead to a serious risk of miscarriage. They can also cause lethal congenital abnormalities especially with rubella virus infection, which may also result in increased chances of premature delivery. “Up to 80 percent to 90 percent of women who catch rubella infection during pregnancy in the first trimester develop serious birth defects, hearing defects, cataract and mental retardation,” says Dr Grover of Fortis La Femme, New Delhi.
They are also known to cause birth defects and complications during pregnancy.

Dosage: MMR vaccinations are pre-pregnancy vaccinations because they cannot be administered during pregnancy, unlike the Hepatitis B vaccinations.

Remember, that even if you were already given an MMR shot when you were younger, its immunity can wear off. So head for a blood test and get it administered. “Since it is a live vaccine, it should be taken preferably three months before planning or minimum four weeks prior to the pregnancy,” advises Dr Grover.

pre-pregnancy vaccinations

Pre-pregnancy vaccinations physically prepare the body to fight diseases that can be life-threatening to you and your unborn child

Tetanus, Diphtheria, Acellular Pertussis (TDAP) booster

Definition of the disease: While Tetanus is a serious illness characterised by muscle spasm, Diphtheria is a respiratory tract infection and acellular pertussis is whopping cough.

Effects of the disease: While tetanus can cause that cause painful muscles spasms and convulsions leading to fetal and maternal death if contracted during pregnancy. Diphtheria and acellular pertussis can cause serious breathing problems, paralysis, coma and death.

Dosage: A booster shot is needed every 10 years. Pertussis also known as whooping cough is a rare illness but is an extremely serious contagious disease and can be fatal.

The TDAP booster is recommended to most pregnant women.

It can be administered between 27th and 36th week of pregnancy if it has been more than 10 years since the last dose of TDAP.
The booster shot will immunize your body against all three diseases.
This vaccine is made with toxoids so it is safe during pregnancy. “It can also be given four weeks before planning a pregnancy,” says Dr Grover.

Continue reading to know about the other three essential pre-pregnancy vaccinations

Chicken Pox vaccine

Definition of the disease: If you escaped this painful infection in your childhood, there is a likely chance you will get infected with chicken pox as an adult. It’s even more painful if you’re pregnant. Chicken pox is a diseases characterised by mild fever and itchy water-filled pimples. In case you contract it,  you must consult with your OB-GYN and get a chicken pox vaccine administered at the earliest.

Effects of the disease: If you have not been immunized, it can cause serious immunisation problems in your baby.

Dosage: The chicken pox vaccination should be given at least four weeks before pregnancy.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine

Definition of the disease: HPV is a DNA virus that infects the human body.

Effects of the disease: It causes cervical cancer and genital warts. Thereby making the HPV vaccine a protectant against cervical cancer and genital warts.

Dosage: This pre-pregnancy vaccination is administered in three doses pre-pregnancy. However, in case you’re unable to complete the three doses before pregnancy, you can do so after delivery. “It should be taken six months before pregnancy for the complete course,” says Dr Grover of Fortis La Femme, New Delhi.

pre-pregnancy vaccinations

Chicken pox, HPV and are the other most important pre-pregnancy vaccinations

Flu shot

Definition of the disease: Flu is an infectious viral illness characterised by cough and sneeze.

Effects of the disease: It can lead to high fever in the mother and thereby, affect the overall health of the baby.

Dosage: Avoid live virus (nasal spray vaccine) during pregnancy. The flu shot injectable, however, can be administered to a pregnant woman. Although pregnant women are rarely likely to have serious effects of flu. So they can get vaccinated during pregnancy and during the second half of their pregnancy.

“The best time to get a flu shot is before the flu season. Since flu virus is a mutant and changes once every season, flu vaccines are given accordingly every year,” says Dr Grover.

Advantages of pre-pregnancy vaccinations

All of these aforementioned pre-pregnancy vaccinations have various advantages apart from protecting you and your baby from these diseases. Dr Grover of Fortis La Femme, New Delhi, lists the following advantages of pre-pregnancy vaccinations:

  • They prevent harmful effects of certain preventable disease during pregnancy (for benefit of both mother and baby)
  • They also help to develop antibodies. “This prevents the harmful effect of viral infections like Rubella (which causes several congenital abnormalities) to the baby,” says Dr Grover of Fortis La Femme, New Delhi.
  • They also help develop maternal immunity, which is the most important line of defense to protect the baby from tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, hepatitis A, hepatitis B and papilloma virus.

Continue reading to know how to deal with allergies related to pre-pregnancy vaccinations

In case of allergies to the pre-pregnancy vaccinations

In case you find that you are allergic to any of the chemicals present in these pre-pregnancy vaccinations, you must do the following immediately:

  • Inform your doctor
  • Try to look for alternate ways to prevent infection
  • Take precautions like improving hygiene
  • Restrict physical contact with people with contagious illnesses
  • Try to avoid injuries
  • As your doctor to conduct all tests under sterile conditions

The purpose behind administering pre-pregnancy vaccinations is to avoid unnecessary harm to yourself and your baby. Therefore, if you are planning your pregnancy right now try to follow these precautions: 

  • Go for pre-pregnancy counselling to screen your body for antibodies against the above-discussed infections and if possible get the necessary pre-pregnancy vaccinations.
  • Upon consultation with your OB-GYN, opt for prenatal supplements
  • Understand family history of illnesses and check for various genetic diseases like thalassemia
  • Screen yourself for infections that can harm the baby and yourself like hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV and Rubella.
pre-pregnancy vaccinations

If you are allergic to any of the chemicals in pre-pregnancy vaccinations, you must inform your doctor and look for alternate ways to prevent infection

Facility of free pre-pregnancy vaccinations in India

Although you may not find all the necessary facilities in your nearby hospital, you can always opt for government hospitals, clinic or charitable institutions. Most of them are equipped with providing tetanus vaccine, MMR, hepatitis B vaccine.

“Most women are not aware and very few of them are coming in for pre-pregnancy vaccinations and counseling. However, this must be encouraged for a healthy mother and child,” says Dr Grover of Fortis La Femme, New Delhi.

 He adds that pre-pregnancy counselling is a must. “It includes patient education, screening for genetic diseases, contagious diseases, antibodies level against Rubella, pre-existing or familiar pre-disposition like diabetes, hypertension, epilepsy or syphilis. I would advise mothers to concentrate on their nutrition and make sure than the pre-pregnancy vaccination are administered at registered counseling clinics,” says Dr Grover.

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Written by

Deepshikha Punj