Pregnancy is beyond a doubt a period of happiness and pampering, but it also a time when you need to be careful. With the amount of changes that are happening inside you, there is always a possibility of some complications which can be harmful to you and your baby.
One of the risks you might face during pregnancy is contracting tetanus. Studies suggest that a tetanus infection can pass from the mother to her unborn baby and could be life threatening for both. Hence, it is important to get yourself vaccinated for tetanus well in time.
Tetanus is a condition caused by Clostridium tetani bacteria, and can be life threatening. The bacteria can enter the body through the smallest scratch on the skin. It can also enter through bites, burns and cuts. Once the bacteria is within the body, it produces a substance known as tetanospasmin, which is released into the bloodstream. Tetanospasmin attacks the nervous system and paralyses the muscles of the body slowly, which cause death if not aggressively treated in time.
Symptoms arise after the incubation period, which varies from 3 to 21 days. Some important symptoms of an active tetanus infection are stiffness in neck, lockjaw, difficulty in swallowing, high blood pressure, fever and sweating.
In newborns, tetanus bacteria can enter the body from using unsterilized instruments during delivery too. Your baby can be affected if you are not immunized.
Tetanus can be prevented by vaccinations to the pregnant mother.
Most countries follow the universal immunization program for mothers. Women with complications after abortions, and those who carry the bacteria from previous abortion procedures, should go for tetanus toxoid vaccination.
Tetanus injection is given in combination with diphtheria and pertussis vaccine known as Tdap vaccine or only with diphtheria, called Td vaccine.
All healthcare providers give the vaccine to all pregnant women even if they have taken the vaccine in the past. The best time to administer Tdap vaccine is between 27 to 36 weeks of pregnancy as the chances of antibody transfer to the baby are maximum during this period. Studies have shown that passive antibody transfer is maximized when you take the vaccine during this duration. If you missed taking the vaccine during pregnancy, you can even take it postpartum.
If you have never been immunized against tetanus, to ensure protection for you and your baby, you should ideally receive three doses of the vaccine. The standard schedule is at 0, 4 weeks and 6 to 12 months. This dosage replaces the standard Tdap vaccine taken in the last trimester.
Do not hesitate to speak with your doctor regarding any concerns about vaccinations. Stay healthy and stay aware. If there are any symptoms like fever redness, swelling, make sure to inform your doctor.
Also read: Pregnancy And Safe Medication