So you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while, and the two-week waiting period (more like the two-year waiting period) is over: those magical two lines have finally appeared on the pregnancy test! Before you start worrying about whether or not you should eat those truffle fries, go organic, or wonder how you will juggle diapers and work deadlines, there are some essentials to take care of. While an indulgent babymoon, an amazing baby shower, or extra naps can still be on the agenda, Dr. Kaye McMullan of the International Medical Clinic recommends two vaccinations you should take during your pregnancy in Singapore to protect yourself and the baby.
What are the vaccinations that are recommended during pregnancy?
There are two main vaccines the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organisation recommend during pregnancy.
- Whooping cough (Pertussis) vaccine
- Flu vaccine
“Whooping cough and influenza are both serious conditions that pose a risk to a newborn,” says Dr McMullan. “As a mother myself I feel it’s important to do everything we can to protect our children.”
Whooping cough (Pertussis) vaccine:
What is whooping cough?
Whooping cough (also known as pertussis) is a bacterial infection that gets into your nose and throat and begins as a mild cough and cold and low-grade fever. It develops into serious coughing fits that end with a whooping sound as the person tries to breathe in air – babies who develop whooping cough often require hospitalisation.
Why do you need it?
If you’re undecided about whether to take vaccinations, Dr. McMullan cautions that many countries are experiencing a resurgence in cases of whooping cough. It often affects babies who are too young to be vaccinated, making it a life-threatening condition. But, if you get vaccinated while still pregnant, your body produces protective antibodies that get passed on to junior even before birth. Yes, our bodies are amazing like that. The whooping cough vaccine allows mums to give their babies some short-term protection till he or she is old enough to get a vaccine.
When should you have the whooping cough vaccine?
The best time to get yourself vaccinated is in your last trimester, between 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy. This is to make sure that your body can create an optimal level of antibodies and pass the protection on to the baby. So if you are approaching week 27, or are almost in the home stretch, speak to your doctor about getting the whooping cough vaccine. Doctor McMullan recommends that this vaccine should be given in every pregnancy irrespective of whether you have had a vaccine for whooping cough before.
Flu (Influenza) vaccine
What is Influenza?
While most of us use the word flu rather casually, Influenza (flu), is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.
Why do you need it?
Apart from all those weird and wonderful changes to your body, pregnancy can also cause changes to your immune system, heart and lungs. While it’s fascinating to watch your body transform with the baby, it also means being extra careful about contracting flu viruses. In more serious cases, flu-related complications could cause premature labour or affect the health of the baby: a strong case for protecting you both.
When should you have the flu vaccine?
The flu vaccine can be taken in any trimester of your pregnancy. Dr. McMullan recommends that the vaccine should be taken as early as possible in the flu season, which is between May to July, and December to February in Singapore. If you have a baby on the way, are planning to get on board the pregnancy train, or just have other concerns about vaccinations during pregnancy, speak to your doctor soon.
Dr. Kaye McMullan has experience in emergency medicine, ICU, respiratory medicine, palliative care and women’s health. She also has a Diploma of Child Health and worked at the pediatric department at Princess Margaret Hospital for Children. Dr. McMullan is based at the IMC Katong Clinic on the East Coast.
This post is sponsored by International Medical Clinic.
Illustration: Aliff Tee for HoneyKids Asia