Many women are wary of getting a flu shot during pregnancy. But moms-to-be who do get the jab not only reduce their own chances of getting influenza (and dangerous complications like pneumonia or preterm labor), they also help protect their baby from contracting the flu for up to six months after birth, the latest research shows.
The antibodies the mother's body makes in response to the vaccine pass via the placenta to the baby and remain there after delivery. "It gives the baby some protection against the virus until he or she can get the vaccine directly, at 6 months old," explains Ashley Roman, MD, clinical assistant professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center. The flu shot contains inactivated virus, so it's safe for pregnant women, Dr. Roman notes.
Another prick experts recommend for expectant moms? Tdap (for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis), is crucial because pertussis, aka whooping cough, can cause serious illness in a baby. You should get the Tdap for each pregnancy. For maximum protection, caregivers, grandparents or anyone who will spend a lot of time around the baby should get Tdap and a flu shot, too.