If you are planning to get pregnant, it is important that your vaccinations are up to date. These are important for your health and for your baby's health too.
Make sure you are immune to rubella (German measles). Talk to your GP to arrange a blood test to check if you are immune.
If you are not immune, you need to get the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. It's the only way to protect your baby from rubella.
When to get the vaccine
You must get the vaccine at least 1 month before you get pregnant.
MMR is a live vaccine. It cannot be given during pregnancy.
Avoid getting pregnant for 1 month after you get the vaccine.
Rubella during pregnancy
Rubella is an infection caused by a virus. You can catch it from coughing and sneezing or being in close contact with someone who has it.
It is most infectious when there is a rash, but it can be spread up to 7 days before a rash appears.
Rubella usually clears up in 7 to 10 days and causes a mild illness in most children and adults.
Rubella infection during pregnancy may cause miscarriage or stillbirth. Nine out of 10 babies will have birth defects such as deafness, blindness, brain damage or heart disease. This is called congenital rubella syndrome.
Congenital rubella syndrome
Vaccination is the only way to prevent congenital rubella syndrome.
If you do become infected with rubella in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy, there is no treatment that will prevent congenital rubella syndrome. This is why it is so important to make sure you are vaccinated.
The earlier in your pregnancy that you get rubella, the greater the risk of congenital rubella syndrome. The risk is highest in the first 20 weeks of your pregnancy. After this time, there is no risk to your baby.