Pregnancy is a time of joy and wonder, but parents-to-be can also have lots of questions and concerns.
With another harsh flu season upon us, many of those concerns have to do with the flu shot and whether it’s recommended or even safe for pregnant women. If you’re expecting, put your mind at ease. Our experts are here to provide the answers that can help you have a healthy pregnancy, from flu shots to prenatal vitamins and more.
Should pregnant women get a flu shot?
According to Arlene Jacobs, MD, a board-certified OB-GYN at Medical City Plano, flu shots are recommended for pregnant women in every trimester unless they have an allergy to the vaccine. She says that flu and pregnancy can be life-threatening, leading to a host of secondary complications including pneumonia, meningitis, sepsis and others. If you haven’t had a flu shot yet this season, it’s not too late to stop by your closest CareNow Urgent Care clinic to get one.
Shuchi Desai, MD, a fellow OB-GYN at Medical City Plano, agrees that getting a flu shot during pregnancy is completely safe. In fact, she says it’s even more highly recommended during pregnancy than when you’re not pregnant because of the potential severity of flu complications and the possibility of ending up in the ER or even the ICU.
Should pregnant women get a Tdap vaccine?
Tdap is a vaccination routinely give to children at age 11 or 12. It protects against three serious bacterial diseases:
- Tetanus (lockjaw)
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
Dr. Desai follows the CDC’s recommendation and encourages all of her patients to have a Tdap vaccine early in the third trimester of each of their pregnancies. Having the Tdap vaccine as early as possible in the third trimester will protect the baby from getting whooping cough during that vulnerable time until he or she can get a pertussis vaccination at age three months.
Which prenatal vitamin should a pregnant woman take?
Dr. Desai says any prenatal vitamin — including an over-the-counter brand — is ok to take as long as it has 800 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid. Folic acid has been shown to protect against neural rube defects such as spina bifida, which is why the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that all women of childbearing age get 400 mcg of folic acid daily. Look for “folate” on the nutrition label.
How can I relieve sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy?
Sciatic nerve pain during pregnancy is common and can be very painful. Dr. Desai says that it’s more likely to happen toward the end of pregnancy, as hip bones expand and the body prepares for labor. This expansion can compress the sciatic nerve and cause shooting pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the back, hip, leg or foot.
To relieve sciatic pain during pregnancy, she recommends:
- Prenatal yoga and stretches
- Chiropractic care
- Pelvic physical therapy
For answers to more pregnancy questions, check out Answers to the Most Googled Questions About Pregnancy.