As the focus in the media lately has been on the potential new vaccine for Covid19, I thought it time to blog about the necessary vaccines and other tests you should have during pregnancy.
Vaccines on the NHS
There are two essential vaccines that you should have when pregnant. They are provided for free on the NHS.
- Whooping Cough – every pregnant woman should be offered this vaccination from 16 weeks. The best time to have it is between 16 and 32 weeks of pregnancy. Whooping cough is a nasty infection for anyone but is particularly harmful to newborn babies and sadly it can even lead to death. Having this vaccine at the right time during pregnancy will protect your newborn baby from getting whooping cough. It is well worth the sore arm!
- Flu – every pregnant woman is entitled to a free flu jab. My baby was born at the end of the flu season so it was very important that I was given it back in October. I organised to have my flu jab at the same time as a routine blood test which worked well. The flu jab is seasonal so will only be offered to women who are pregnant across the winter. (This is most women given that pregnancy lasts 9 months!)
Not available on the NHS (but should be!)…
Another test which is surprisingly not available on the NHS is the Group B Strep test. Group B strep is a type of bacteria called streptococcal bacteria. It is very common. Up to 2 in 5 people have it living in their body, usually in the rectum or vagina. Although it is harmless for most people, it can make your baby very poorly if it spreads to them.
A test for Group B Strep is very easy to do at home, at a cost of around £30. I ordered mine from ‘The Doctor’s Laboratory’ and the results were sent to me and my doctor within a few days.
Fortunately I did not have Group B Strep. However, if I did it wouldn’t have been an issue. I would simply have needed antibiotics during labour to help protect the baby from contracting it. Knowledge really is everything so it is well worth the small cost to have the test.
As with the immunisations, a new test would need to be purchased and carried out for each pregnancy.
Vitamins and supplements
Before pregnancy – when trying to conceive I ensured I was taking folic acid (this is essential for the baby in the early weeks when you may be unaware you’re pregnant). I took Seven Seas ‘Trying for a baby’ which contains the recommended amount of folic acid as well as iron and vitamin D. I also carried out some research and found out that Co-Enzyme Q10 may have a positive effect on the health of your eggs. Therefore I began taking this vitamin too. Interestingly (though possibly coincidentally) the month I became pregnant was the month I started to take this supplement.
Links to the two supplements I took are below:
During pregnancy – when I found out I was pregnant I stopped taking Co-Enzyme Q10 and I changed my ‘trying for a baby’ vitamin to a ‘during all stages of pregnancy’ vitamin. This vitamin is essentially the same but also contains ginger to help alleviate nausea.
Here is a link to this supplement:
After pregnancy – once my baby was born and I began to breastfeed and express milk for him I looked into an ‘after pregnancy’ vitamin. Interestingly I found that these breastfeeding vitamins are essentially the same as those you take during pregnancy but with the addition of Omega 3. These post-pregnancy vitamins are so much more expensive than those branded for pregnancy. We found this rather cheeky! Using my husband’s chemistry knowledge (and a bit of common sense!) I decided to simply continue to take a daily pregnancy vitamin along with the right amount of a separate omega 3 supplement – so much cheaper and exactly the same!
One more thing – if you are breastfeeding your baby ensure you are giving them 1 vitamin d drop per day (as we do not get enough vitamin d and need to supplement!) This is already included in formula milk. You are likely to get d drops for free from Bounty but they run out quite quickly so can also be bought on Amazon.
I hope these suggestions of essential and optional supplements, tests and vaccines is useful to you! Enjoy your safe and healthy pregnancy!
*I am not a medical expert so please check with your doctor before taking supplements, as you normally would. This is just my experience!