When it comes to taking care of my child, I get to be the expert. That being said, I still have a lot to learn.
What I know for sure is this: when you’re pregnant or a mom, you have to protect your own health to ensure the health of your children. We all know what that entails: eating well, staying active, making time for yourself, and—the one we frequently forget—getting vaccinated. As a health expert, I may know all of this, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to stay on track. Pregnancy brings all new questions and concerns. What if I get sick? Can I eat that? Did I take my vitamin today? What if something’s wrong?
So when my midwife offered me an annual flu shot at a routine prenatal visit, I hadn’t even considered it. As a professional in prenatal education, I was aware of the importance of flu vaccination, but it was still overwhelming. Do I really need this now? I went back to my health care provider and other experts for more information.
The truth was clear and simple: getting your flu shot is even more important during pregnancy. Though expectant women are pumping themselves full of nutrients through healthy foods and prenatal vitamins, they have weaker immune systems than non-pregnant women. The maternal heart and lungs are also undergoing changes during pregnancy. This means that an otherwise mild case of the flu could turn into a severe illness, and complications related to the flu could lead to hospitalization, or even death.
In addition to my own health, I was prepared to do whatever necessary to protect my growing baby. Luckily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares information about the millions of pregnant women who have safely received flu vaccination over the years. CDC also explains how antibodies from flu vaccination while pregnant protect the baby after birth. Since infants less than 6 months old can’t get the shot and flu season spans half the year, those babies are more vulnerable to illness if mom hadn’t gotten her pregnancy vaccine. Again, I asked questions: What about bringing my baby to germy daycare, or out in public? What if my sweet, tiny newborn got sick? The answer was clear: the best protection was getting vaccinated before the baby arrived.
My Text4baby messages continually reinforced the information I found about the importance of vaccination in pregnancy. As the only free U.S. text messaging service that makes it easy for pregnant women and new moms to get important health and safety information, Text4baby sends moms like me weekly messages through pregnancy and the baby’s first year, personalized to my due date and my baby’s birthday.
Because the flu shot is critical for the health of pregnant women, their babies and families, Text4baby, Rite Aid, and Johnson & Johnson are teaming up for a second year to help give moms and moms-to-be access to free flu shots.
Looking back on those hazy first few months, I’m so thankful I had the information that led me to the right decision. Being a parent means you’ll always have questions, but this was one I didn’t have to worry about.
From now through February, Text4baby moms can receive an offer for free flu shots at any Rite Aid store nationwide. To sign up, text BABY (BEBE for Spanish) to 511411, and you’ll receive a text message offering a free flu shot coupon. For more information about the flu and the flu shot, check out CDC information or talk to your health care provider.
Participants receive three free text messages a week. Visit www.text4baby.org. Text STOP to discontinue service or HELP for technical help. Flu shots are available while supplies last through February 28, 2015. Must be over 18 years of age. Only standard flu vaccine available for this offer. See Rite Aid pharmacist for details.