Vaccinations should be on the pre-conception checklist

Making the decision to fall pregnant is extremely exciting and worrying at the same time. Exciting because you know the joys being a parent brings and worrying because you pray nothing goes wrong and that you’re able to be the best parent possible. Vaccinations are the last thing on your mind.

When I made the decision to have a baby, I wanted to make sure my body and mind were prepared. The first thing I did, like any mum-to-be would do, was search online for ways to prepare your body for conception and pregnancy. After reading numerous blogs and joining forums, the most common advice and tips included everything from taking folic acid to losing weight. I checked all those boxes and knew that I had conception covered…and I did. No mention of Vaccinations at all.

I fell pregnant pretty quickly and very easily. Then came the pregnancy part. I researched all the ways that one could possibly lose a baby through miscarriage, or at least I thought I did. Out of all the websites, forums and conversations I had, no one discussed the topic of Vaccinations.

I was ignorant then. I didn’t know that checking your immunity against certain diseases could ultimately be one of the most important things a woman trying to conceive should do. I found it extremely strange that my doctor only checked my blood for immunity against diseases such as Rubella when I fell pregnant.

What blew my mind even more was when I discovered that this is common practice. A woman is only checked for immunity against certain diseases after she falls pregnant and not before. It should have been the other way around….it needs to be the other way around!

I was 15 weeks pregnant when I discovered I contracted Rubella (German Measles). Because the symptoms are dormant for up to 3 weeks, one could get Rubella and not immediately know it.

Congenital Rubella Syndrome is one of the worst viruses that a fetus can get. It is worse than not taking folic acid and worse than smoking the occasional cigarette. It does extreme damage to an unborn baby. And yet women’s immunity levels are only tested after they fall pregnant. And getting all my Vaccinations as a child didn’t help.

I had to terminate my pregnancy at 16 weeks by being medically induced. I got to experience labour and delivered my precious little girl with the support of my amazing husband. It was one of the most traumatic yet beautiful experiences of my life. Traumatic because no mother should ever have to see their child that way, but beautiful because I am a mother nonetheless.

Going through that experience has made me an advocate for Vaccinations. There are many mothers who refuse to vaccinate their children for many unfounded reasons. I am extremely pro choice and believe people should be allowed to make their own decisions, but if those decisions can potentially cause harm to others then one has to rethink it.

Vaccinations not only prevent your children from contracting really bad viruses that can kill them, it also prevents them from spreading that virus onto the next person and potentially devestating them. It is also important to know that most vaccines require booster shots. In my case, although I was vaccinated against Rubella as an infant, not receiving the booster shot at 13 allowed my body to become susceptible to the virus all over again.

I encourage all doctors, fetal specialists and gynecologists to inform their patients about potential diseases such as Rubella before they fall pregnant. It could be the determining factor as to whether that patient experiences childbirth or child loss.

If you’re trying to conceive or might want to conceive in the near future, then I urge you to check your immunity against Rubella. It should be as important as taking your folic acid, checking your ovulation calendar and following a healthy conception diet.

Suhaifa Naidoo

Suhaifa Naidoo

Suhaifa is the founder of Mashup Marketing, a successful digital marketing company helping brands grow online. Her passion for technology coupled with her strong views on gender equality sees her fulfilling the role as organiser and chairperson of Girl Geek Dinners Cape Town, a networking event to break down stereotypes in the technology industry. When her schedule and budget allows, she is often found fulfilling her wanderlust desires by travelling and blogging about it on 50 hours in a car. Follow Suhaifa on Twitter or Instagram.

2 Comments
  1. Hi Suhaifa. Sorry to hear about your loss. I had also found out about my lack of immunity after being pregnant with my SECOND child. Gyne 1 slipped up. I got vaccinated after his birth and fell sick for 3months beacuse of a lack of immunity due to childbirth,loss of blood, sleep etc… so yes,I agree, get it done while you are strong and opt in for rubella iso mmr. Mmr was a total immune overload for me post birth.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story – you’re so brave and strong! I also strongly believe in vaccines. It truly is a matter of life and death. So sorry for your loss, and hope that you are able to carry another bundle of joy to term when you’re ready again.

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