Whooping cough (pertussis) is a respiratory infection that develops into severe coughing fits.
Why do I need the whooping cough vaccine in pregnancy?
The vaccine is given to you in pregnancy so that your child does not get whooping cough as a baby. This illness can be very severe, especially in very young babies, and it can lead to hospitalisation and even death.
The number of cases of whooping cough in the UK has risen among babies who are too young to have had their vaccinations. 14 babies died in 2012 of whooping cough. Because of this, the Department of Health has developed a vaccine for pregnant women to protect their babies against this illness until the babies can be immunised themselves.
This vaccination programme was brought in in 2012. It was successful in reducing the numbers of babies dying so it has been continued.
Babies born to vaccinated mothers are 90% less likely to get whooping cough than babies whose mothers are not vaccinated.
When will I get the whooping cough vaccine?
You will be offered a whooping cough vaccination by your midwife or doctor. The best time to get vaccinated to protect your baby is from week 16 up to 32 weeks of pregnancy. You can have the vaccine anytime from 16 weeks but if you have it after 38 weeks it may be less effective.
How do I know that there are no long term effects?
Comprehensive research into the vaccine has shown that it’s very safe, with no ill-effects for pregnant women or their babies. A large study of 18,000 vaccinated women found no evidence of an increased risk of stillbirth or any other pregnancy complications.
Why has this vaccination programme been put in place?
The programme of vaccination against whooping cough was introduced in 2012 as the UK reported the largest increase in whooping cough in over two decades. At that time, the greatest numbers of cases were in adolescents and young adults but the highest rates of illness and death happened in infants too young to be vaccinated. In England and Wales, a total of 14 infant deaths were reported in 2012.
You are likely to find that your second pregnancy has differences to the first time you were pregnant.
It’s common to feel unusually tired when you’re pregnant, and it can be very frustrating if you can’t get to sleep.
The fact that you’ve had a previous abortion is not likely to affect your pregnancy.
As a pregnant employee you have legal rights, and this includes paid time off for antenatal appointments or antenatal and parenting classes.
Stretch marks appear mostly on your stomach, breasts and thighs. They look like darker lines or streaks and they appear as your bump grows and your skin stretches.
No, it’s unlikely you will have an internal examination (inside your vagina) until you go into labour unless there is any concern that needs to be investigated.
After 12 weeks it is not harmful to take folic acid but the neural tube will have grown and so it will not benefit from it.
If you have already had a normal pregnancy and baby, and this pregnancy is considered low risk, giving birth at home has been shown to be just as safe as birth in a hospital unit.
If you are over 28 weeks pregnant some airlines will ask you for a letter from your doctor or midwife. Most airlines will not carry pregnant women after 36 weeks or 32 weeks if they are carrying twins.
There doesn't appear to be any evidence to show that hair dye is unsafe in pregnancy.
- Public Health England (2014) Vaccination against pertussis (Whooping cough) for pregnant women- 2014 Information for healthcare professionals https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/vaccination-against-pertussis...
- Amirthalingam G et al (2014) Effectiveness of maternal pertussis vaccination in England: an observational study, The Lancet, Volume 384, No.9953, p1521-1528, 25 October 2014
- Dabrera G et al (2015) A case-control study to estimate the effectiveness of maternal pertussis vaccination in protecting newborn infants in England and Wales, 2012-2013. Clin Infect Dis. 60(3):333-7, 1 Feb 2015
- Eberhardt C, Maternal Immunization earlier in pregnancy maximises antibody transfer and epected infant seropositivity against pertussis, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Volume 62, Issue 7, p829-836, 20 January 2016
- Donegan K (2014) Safety of pertussis vaccination in pregnant women in UK: observational study, BMJ, 2014;349:g4219
- Public Health England (2017), 'Whooping cough and pregnancy': https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/624265/WhoopingCough_A5_booklet.pdf [accessed 11/06/2018]. Last reviewed 2017.
ℹLast reviewed on April 1st, 2014. Next review date April 1st, 2017.