Pregnancy and the journey to that point, for some women, can be a time where they become more intimately acquainted with the inside of a doctor’s office than ever before. Countless magazines on waiting room tables combine with endless “hellos” of doctors and nurses, not to mention the incessant blood draws and questions regarding your health and family history. A flurry of appointment reminders, insurance papers, it all seems so blissfully chaotic, but let me ask you this: When was the last time you thought about vaccines during pregnancy?

Why should I be thinking about vaccines?

Vaccines give women immunity to certain infectious diseases and mothers can pass on immunity to their newborn children both through the placenta and through breastfeeding. A woman making sure her vaccines are up to date allows her child the best chance to fight off infections they may come into contact with shortly after birth.

Are vaccines safe during pregnancy?

Many are safe, yes. It is recommended that certain vaccines, such as rubella, be given at least a month before pregnancy if a woman is not already immune. Many women, however, are already immune to rubella by the time they’re planning a pregnancy due to the MMR vaccine they received in childhood. As a safeguard, every woman is given a blood test to check her immunity.

What if my partner and I want to babymoon or travel?

Visiting certain countries may lead to the recommendation of additional vaccines before your trip. Some vaccines typically given for travel, however, may come along with risks to a pregnancy. It’s a good idea to discuss your travel plans with your doctor 4-6 weeks before your trip and explore the risks and benefits for certain vaccines that may typically be avoided during pregnancy.

What’s my first step?

It’s always helpful to take a complete and up to date record of your immunizations to your health care provider. This allows your physician to see any areas that may need to be filled in prior to, or during, a pregnancy. If you don’t have records, that’s okay! Many blood tests can assess immunity to a variety of infectious diseases.

Where can I find more information?

Your doctor is an excellent resource for all things vaccines, but if you’d like some more information now, the CDC has a great webpage covering vaccines before, during, and after pregnancy.