From the moment you found out you were pregnant, you started thinking about how to keep your baby safe and healthy. You might have changed the way you eat, added a daily prenatal vitamin to your routine or researched car seats. Did you know that vaccines are another way you can protect your baby before they are even born?

Prenatal protection

While you’re probably familiar with some of the vaccines children get in the first few years of life like the measles and chickenpox vaccines, there are actually two vaccines, specifically flu and whooping cough vaccines, you should get while pregnant that can help protect you and your baby.

By getting vaccinated during pregnancy, you can pass antibodies to your baby that help protect against diseases for several months after birth, when he or she is too young to receive certain vaccines. This short-term protection is critical for protection against flu and whooping cough because your baby is at greatest risk of getting severely ill from these diseases in the first few months of life.

“During pregnancy, changes in your immune system, heart, and lungs can make you more prone to severe illness from the flu.”

Avoiding complications

Protection from flu is especially important while you are pregnant. During pregnancy, changes in your immune system, heart and lungs can make you more prone to severe illness from the flu. There is also some evidence to suggest that getting the flu during your pregnancy may increase your risk for pregnancy complications, including premature labor and delivery.

After you’ve given your baby some short-term protection against whooping cough and flu with your maternal vaccines, you can give your baby long-term protection from 14 serious diseases by following the CDC’s recommended childhood immunization schedule.

Never too safe

While diseases like measles, mumps and chickenpox are no longer common in the United States because of vaccines, they still exist and outbreaks of these diseases do occur. These diseases can be serious and sometimes deadly in children. Following the recommended schedule protects your baby before they are likely to be exposed to potentially serious diseases and when they are most vulnerable to infection.

Vaccination helps protect your baby from birth through adulthood. You can start protecting your baby today by talking to your doctor about the vaccines you need during pregnancy.