Ep. 14: Should I Get Vaccinated While Pregnant? (21 and 25 Weeks Pregnant)

October 8, 2018

Listen Now:

Shanna and Laura learn about vaccines during pregnancy during their interview with pharmacist, immunization specialist and fellow pregnant person Keri Hurley-Kim! Also, Laura discusses her unexpected reaction when people tell her “congrats” about her pregnancy, and Shanna reports on feeling and seeing her baby’s fetal kicks and punches. The moms-to-be also reveal their BFPs and BFNs for the week. Laura is 21 weeks pregnant, and Shanna is 25 weeks pregnant.

Topics discussed in this episode:

-Week 21 of pregnancy

-Week 25 of pregnancy

-Unexpected thoughts and feelings when pregnant

-Baby kicks

-Fetal pigmentation

-Vaccines when pregnant

-TDAP vaccine during pregnancy

-Flu vaccine during pregnancy

-Maternity clothes

-Prenatal constipation

This episode’s full show notes can be found here.

Want to get in touch with Shanna and Laura? Send us an email and follow us on social! Instagram, Facebook or TikTok at @bfppodcast

Join our Facebook community group for support and camaraderie on your parenting journey.

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Big Fat Positive: A Pregnancy and Parenting Journey is produced by Laura Birek, Shanna Micko and Steve Yager.

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Episode Transcript

Laura Birek: Hi. Welcome to Big Fat Positive with Shanna and Laura. I’m Laura.

Shanna Micko: I’m Shanna.

Laura Birek: We are friends and writing partners who found out we were pregnant at the exact same time, so we decided to start a podcast about it.

Shanna Micko: In this week’s episode, we have our weekly check-ins, we have a special guest interview segment where we get to talk to a pharmacist who also happens to be pregnant and we do our weekly BFPs and BFNs. Let’s get to it.


Shanna Micko: Hi, everybody. Welcome to episode 14.

Laura Birek: Welcome.

Shanna Micko: We’re going to kick it off with our weekly check-ins. Laura, I’m dying to know what week you are and what the heck’s been going on.

Laura Birek: Well, I met 21 weeks, so I’m into the second half of this pregnancy. It’s pretty smooth sailing. Last week was the big anatomy scan, so this week’s kind of boring. But I definitely noticed a trend, which was, people are starting to tell me, “Congrats.” 

I’m obviously pregnant now. It’s not like, maybe I ate a little bit too much. I’m definitely pregnant and I’ve bought some form fitting maternity shirts.

Shanna Micko: Ruched as you mentioned last episode?

Laura Birek: Yes, ruched and gathered. Random people have told me congrats. I’ve been telling more people because the anatomy scan went well and I have such a weird reaction when people tell me congrats. I kind of feel like a fraud.

Shanna Micko: Why? What do you mean?

Laura Birek: I feel like I’m not doing anything, because I feel like you and I were both creative folk and I feel like when I’ve gotten congrats in the past is when I’ve worked hard to create something. I guess in the most primal sense I am creating the biggest thing I could ever create, but I don’t feel like I’m working very hard at it.

Shanna Micko: It’s not like you did a school play and rehearsed for six weeks and are getting like a bouquet of flowers at the end.

Laura Birek: It’s just like we had sex and then I didn’t have alcohol. It feels like I didn’t do a lot of things. Instead of doing a lot of things to get congrats, it’s like, I didn’t do a lot of things.

Shanna Micko: You abstain from alcohol and deli meat.

Laura Birek: Exactly. It’s weird. I feel like I’m not doing things instead of doing things to get the congratulations. I’m not drinking, not eating deli meat. All I’m doing is sleeping and napping and not taking ibuprofen.

Shanna Micko: Congrats on being a lazy unproductive person. That’s how I feel, but no. Oh my God, you’re doing so much. You built that baby, you built that placenta. That’s a whole other organ, because I know that’s what people think when they’re telling you congrats. They’re like congrats on building an organ placenta that’s creating a child.

Laura Birek: Sure. Of course, good point. They’re definitely thinking that. But anyway, that’s sort of what’s been on my mind this week, but I know that’s just my own personal hang-up and Corey thinks I’m crazy. He’s like, “But you are doing things,” I’m like, “It just doesn’t feel that way.”

Shanna Micko: Well, it’s interesting. I think it shows something about your personality that that’s how you interpret congratulations, because to me, it’s like a life event type of word as opposed to I did a task and accomplished it well. More like, oh, I’m getting married, people tell me congrats, because they’re happy for my life moving forward in a happy way or something.

Laura Birek: Like you found a good guy, you planned a wedding, you managed to keep him, and you got him to put a ring on it.

Shanna Micko: That’s true. That was a lot of effort.

Laura Birek: Anyway, that’s what’s going on with this week. What are you at week wise?

Shanna Micko: 25.

Laura Birek: Whoo!

Shanna Micko: I know. I have a couple things to report. Steve, my husband, is finally able to feel the baby kicks when he puts his hands on my tummy. That’s really cool, because I’ve been trying to get him to, because they feel hard to me. So I put his hand on my tummy and try to get him to feel it and it hasn’t been working and then the other night, all of a sudden, he’s like, “I felt it.” I looked at him and I was just like, “Aww,” and it just felt like a really special moment.

Laura Birek: Aww, that’s so cute.

Shanna Micko: It’s really cute and I’m going to take the cute to a creepy level as I often do. I can also see my belly move sometimes when she kicks really hard and that is some crazy shit. It reminded me of these crazy YouTube videos. I don’t know if you’ve seen these, but moms that are probably further along in their pregnancy than me, when the baby’s kicking and moving, you can kind of see an elbow’s moving across her stomach.

Laura Birek: Oh, no, I have not looked those up. Now, I’m a little afraid.

Shanna Micko: I don’t know if you’ve seen these, but if you haven’t at least just watch a few seconds. We should put a link for our listeners in case they want to see what I’m talking about.

Laura Birek: We’re going to have to dig up some favorites, because this is not a genre of YouTube that I am familiar with. I’ve dug some dark YouTube rabbit holes. One of my somewhat secret shames is I really enjoy pimple popping videos.

Shanna Micko: Oh my Lord.

Laura Birek: It’s not like I sit and watch them every night or anything, but every once in a while, because I’ve watched some in the past, it’ll come up in a suggestion and it’ll be like, “This crazy whitehead,” and I just find it fascinating. It’s a whole thing too. Dermatologists have millions of followers and they’ll just post videos of them extracting really gross pimples and stuff.

Shanna Micko: Wow. I’m learning lots of stuff right now.

Laura Birek: I don’t know why I find that okay, but the idea of seeing a baby elbow go across the stomach is freaking me out.

Shanna Micko: It’s not my favorite thing, but I think I would rather watch that than squirting pimple juice on my screen. But anyway, I have two other things to report just because we don’t have a, “Today I Learned” segment.

Laura Birek: Yes, please change the topic.

Shanna Micko: But I did learn a couple interesting things that are going on with me this week that I wanted to share. First of all, I learned that right now the baby’s hair is white. At this stage, all baby’s hair is white because there’s no pigment yet.

Laura Birek: Oh.

Shanna Micko: So our babies have little white hair. That was kind of crazy and then my uterus is the size of a soccer ball.

Laura Birek: That seems enormous.

Shanna Micko: But it put so much into context. Last week I was complaining about bending over and it’s like, well, no wonder. I have a field game ball inside of my stomach.

Laura Birek: Really?

Shanna Micko: Yeah.

Laura Birek: I just saw you. Your stomach is there, but I can’t imagine a full soccer ball. Wow.

Shanna Micko: It’s there.

Laura Birek: Do you ever question those sizes in the apps?

Shanna Micko: When it’s relating to vegetables, yes, because I think that’s really stupid because one week it’s like your baby is the size of an eggplant and the next week, it’s the size of a leaf of kale and it’s just confusing. I think they mean length. But the soccer ball makes sense, because I feel like I do have a ball in my stomach.

Laura Birek: Also, soccer balls are a standard size. Eggplants can be of all sizes.

Shanna Micko: 100%.

Laura Birek: Are we talking about a Japanese eggplant? Are we talking about an eggplant that’s been GMO’d and it probably weighs 20 pounds?

Shanna Micko: They don’t specify. They leave us hanging.

Laura Birek: All right.

Shanna Micko: Anyway, that’s my check-in for the week.

Laura Birek: Cool beans.


Laura Birek: Our next segment is a special guest interview that we’re really excited about. This week we have my dear friend, Keri Hurley-Kim, who is a pharmacy professor at West Coast University School of Pharmacy and she is also a pregnant lady like us. Welcome to the show, Keri.

Shanna Micko: Hi.

Keri Hurley: Hi. Thank you. Hello, everybody.

Laura Birek: Keri, when we started the podcast, we knew we wanted to get you on the show as soon as possible and then it took a while. So we’re happy to have you here now. Will you tell us where you are in your pregnancy? You’re ahead of us, right? You’re forging ahead.

Keri Hurley: Yeah, I’m actually 32 weeks yesterday.

Laura Birek: Oh my God.

Shanna Micko: Whoa! You’re so close.

Keri Hurley: Getting really close actually. All of a sudden it seemed like.

Shanna Micko: Wow.

Laura Birek: You’re having a girl.

Keri Hurley: I am having a girl.

Laura Birek: Then we’re all basically it’s like one month apart. You have your girl, Shanna has her girl, and then I’ll have my boy.

Shanna Micko: Then we have a party with them all together.

Keri Hurley: Hopefully, more than one party.

Laura Birek: In addition to being a pregnant person like us, you are a pharmacist and you specialize in immunization pharmacy. How would you put it?

Keri Hurley: I’d dabble in a lot of different things having to do with healthcare and pharmacy, but vaccines are a particular professional passion of mine. That’s for sure.

Laura Birek: I know we were talking at dinner when I think I told you I was pregnant and you told me something I didn’t know, which was about the Tdap vaccine. 

Can you tell us why it’s important for pregnant women, especially to get the Tdap vaccine and what it is?

Keri Hurley: The Tdap vaccine is actually a vaccine against three different diseases. The first one is tetanus. So if you’ve heard everybody’s gotten a tetanus shot, that’s one component. The other is diphtheria and the final one is pertussis. The reason that we are especially concerned with pregnant women being immunized with the Tdap combination vaccine is to protect the infant after they’re born against pertussis. Infants are especially vulnerable to all respiratory diseases, but pertussis is one that is particularly dangerous for babies who become infected. In California right now, we’re actually right in the beginning of another pertussis outbreak year. It typically comes in cycles of every three to four and we’re on the upswing already for 2018.

Shanna Micko: That’s bad timing for us, but I guess the vaccine will help.

Keri Hurley: The vaccine is even more important. It’s important, regardless of what’s going on with the epidemiology in a given year, but this year is particularly vital that we all get vaccinated in addition to some of our family members that we can go into a little bit as well.

Shanna Micko: Are you telling me that as a pregnant woman, if I get this vaccine that somehow gets transferred to my fetus and then she’ll be immune when she’s born?

Keri Hurley: Yeah, you actually are transferring a lot of antibodies to your baby right now and when you get the pertussis vaccine, it causes your body to produce a really high concentration of these antibodies that can then be passed on to him or her.

Shanna Micko: Cool.

Keri Hurley: So once she’s born, she’ll have more protection than she would if you had not been vaccinated and that’s why the recommendation is that you get vaccinated with every single pregnancy, not just the first one. Even though Shanna, you have a two-year-old, is that right?

Shanna Micko: Yeah.

Keri Hurley: You probably had it when you were pregnant with her and should still get it again this time as well.

Shanna Micko: Okay. Cool. Is there a certain point in pregnancy when it’s recommended to get that?

Keri Hurley: Yeah, the CDC recommends that you get it between 27 and 36 weeks, so during your third trimester, but it should be early enough that you have time to produce those antibodies and then pass them on to baby. The kind of additional recommendation is that you should get it as early in the third trimester as possible and this helps to make sure that you have efficient antibody transfer and also will provide protection in the case of a premature birth as well.

Shanna Micko: Good point.

Laura Birek: Pertussis is whooping cough, right? That’s what the pertussis is.

Keri Hurley: Yes, I’m sorry. I definitely should have mentioned that, but pertussis is whooping cough and the name comes from a really particular sound that especially kids have when they have that type of cough. It causes really, really strong kind of convulsant, coughing and so you cough so hard that you kind of make a gasping sound when the baby breathes back in.

Laura Birek: It’s deadly. I think a lot of people who are distrustful of vaccines, one of their arguments is that modern medicine has come a long way and we don’t really need to vaccinate against these things because, it’s not as bad as it used to be, but that’s clearly not true.

Keri Hurley: When we do see deaths with pertussis, it’s typically always in infants. Even earlier this year in July, there was a baby in San Bernardino who died of pertussis. The department of public health hasn’t released information about the age or vaccination status of the baby, but they do say that it’s an infant. So definitely still a concern with regards to fatality.

Laura Birek: It’s just not anything you should fool around with.

Keri Hurley: Yeah, absolutely. I actually had pertussis as an adult and that was one of the worst experiences of my life. I can’t even imagine having it in a much more fragile, tiny little body.

Laura Birek: Wow.

Shanna Micko: A lot of people are worried about the safety of vaccines. I think that there’s a lot of misinformation out there or mixed information that people just say, “Well, I’m not going to vaccinate, because I don’t know what’s safe, but it’s easier just not to do anything.” What would you say to someone who is thinking that?

Keri Hurley: I think that it’s definitely important to acknowledge that every drug has side effects. Vaccines can potentially have side effects, but at the end of the day, when those recommendations are made by public health professionals, it’s because they’ve looked very closely at the information, both with regards to safety and the effectiveness of the vaccine and have found that in the case of vaccines in particular, the benefit that we can derive from them far, far outweighs any specific risk that we know of.

Shanna Micko: What are your thoughts on pregnant women getting the flu vaccine?

Keri Hurley: That’s the only other vaccine that’s very specifically recommended for pregnant women and is also important for a couple of different reasons than with the Tdap vaccine. The flu vaccine is recommended for everybody over the age of six months, regardless of who they are, whether they’re pregnant or not. But it’s really important during pregnancy because our immune systems are a little bit suppressed when we’re pregnant, so that puts us at increased risk, not only for infection, but also for complications like other respiratory infections that can happen just because your respiratory system is compromised because of flu. So sometimes we’ll see patients with flu ending up in the hospital with pneumonia. 

We know pregnant women in general, just have an increased risk, not only for infection, but also complications and hospitalizations with influenza. So we recommend very specifically during pregnancy that pregnant women should get vaccinated.

Shanna Micko: Interesting. What’s the timing on that? What time of year or what month-ish should we be doing this?

Keri Hurley: The flu vaccine you should get regardless of the timing in your pregnancy as early as it’s available for that season. The timing of this podcast is actually really fortuitous because the flu vaccine just became available in most parts of the country just this past week. So you should be able to go to your pharmacy, your OB, wherever you get your vaccines in your healthcare and receive the flu shot as soon as you can.

Shanna Micko: Cool. Thank you.

Laura Birek: I got mine, so I’m all set there and I’m excited to get my Tdap. I know that I’m also going to make anyone who’s going to be holding my baby, especially in the early months to have a flu shot and they have to have a Tdap within the last few years. I asked my doctor what he thought and he said within the last three to four years would be the window. Do you agree with that for the Tdap?

Keri Hurley: Yeah, I think that’s definitely reasonable. Unfortunately, the pertussis vaccination that we have is not one that protects us lifelong and in adults, we do think that it lasts somewhere between three and five years in terms of protecting adults and older kids.

Laura Birek: I’m not sure how I’m going to verify this: ask for immunization records before you cross the threshold. I’m not fucking around during flu season and this pertussis season. I don’t know about you.

Keri Hurley: Usually, the recommendation for Tdap for family members is those that are going to have the prolonged contact because you’re right, it is really difficult to ask any visitor to be vaccinated. I think with flu, it’s a little bit more reasonable because that’s just recommended for everybody in general, but for sure, fathers, other caregivers, grandparents who are going to be around a lot, any siblings who maybe not up to date on their own vaccinations, this is a good opportunity for them as well.

Laura Birek: That’s very smart. Keri, to lighten the topic a little bit, let’s talk a little bit about just regular pregnancy lady talk, which is something I found really interesting is that you and your husband announced your baby’s name at the same time as you announced you were pregnant on social media.

Keri Hurley: We did. It’s funny because I find it interesting that you find it interesting, because we didn’t have an in-depth conversation about, should we keep it a secret or should we let people know? I think kind of my thinking was just if people were going to have an opinion about it, they’re going to have that same opinion after the baby’s born. Maybe they just won’t say anything. But we have not had any negative reactions or anybody trying to get us to change our minds or anything like that.

Shanna Micko: That’s nice.

Keri Hurley: Maybe something will happen and I’ll wish I had kept it secret, but so far so good.

Shanna Micko: Well, it’s a very pretty name and I can’t see why anyone would object to that name. I don’t know if you want to share it on the show. You don’t have to, but I think it’s very pretty, especially because, Rose, oh, sorry.

Keri Hurley: That’s okay. I don’t mind.

Shanna Micko: I was going to say Rose is my middle name too, so I love it.

Keri Hurley: Her name is going to be Ella Rose and I think it’s a simple enough name that we didn’t really anticipate anybody questioning it or anything like that.

Laura Birek: I think that makes sense and also I think you and your husband are pretty strong-willed individuals, not easily swayed by the opinions of others. At least that’s my impression of you guys.

Keri Hurley: Pretty much. If somebody told me they hated it, I would be like, well, it’s not your baby’s name. Do something different.

Laura Birek: I am way too influenced by other people’s opinions. That’s part of the reason I don’t want to say anything, because especially my family, if my mom gave me a weird sideways glance when I told her the name, I would be like, well, back to the drawing board. I just don’t want to do that.

Shanna Micko: Oh my God, me too. Well, thank you so much, Keri. It’s been so fun talking to you about vaccinations and baby names and we would love to invite you to join us for our next segment, which is our weekly BFPs and BFNs.


Shanna Micko: Who wants to start? Laura, do you want to kick it off?

Laura Birek: I’ll kick it off so Keri doesn’t have to go first. So I have a BFP this week.

Shanna Micko: Cool.

Laura Birek: It’s maternity clothes, which we all know are great. The specific reason I say maternity clothes is because I had this revelation that maternity clothes are the only time that women’s clothing are made for comfort above anything else. Women’s fashion is all about looking good and looking as skinny as possible and comfort is never the number one thing.

Shanna Micko: Pajamas.

Laura Birek: But that’s not fashion. You’re not going outside. You get what I mean?

Shanna Micko: Point taken.

Laura Birek: It’s not designed for comfort. Everything you wear outside is designed for something else and maybe it’s comfortable, but that’s not the first thing. Except for maternity clothes, it’s all designed for comfort and it’s like, is this what men get to have of all the time? It’s like the first time in history women’s clothes are comfortable. So I’m really enjoying the stretchy ruched shirts, the stretchy pants, wearing a lot of stretchy shorts. I think some Jessica Simpson actually has a lot of pretty nice maternity clothes, which I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I like.

Shanna Micko: That’s cool.

Laura Birek: She’s got some shorts that are really cute. That’s my BFP for this week. Real simple: maternity clothes because dressing for comfort is the best thing. Keri, you want to go next?

Keri Hurley: Sure. I have a BFN.

Shanna Micko: Give it to us.

Keri Hurley: The kind of the background on this is that I’m extremely independent and I don’t really like getting help with things, but I now have to ask for my husband’s help to tie and put on certain pairs of shoes.

Shanna Micko: Didn’t we talk about that last episode?

Laura Birek: Yes, we were just talking about that last episode. We were wondering what happens when you can’t bend over enough to actually get your shoes on?

Keri Hurley: You just have to be really selective about which shoes. Flip flops are great. Anything that you can just slide on, but I’m particularly having trouble with like tennis shoes, anything that needs to be tied and also certain sandals that have like strappy things and buckles.

Laura Birek: Are you still running?

Keri Hurley: I am still running more of a slow jog and probably going to be power walking pretty soon.

Laura Birek: So you’ll have to have those running shoes then.

Keri Hurley: I do have some though that don’t need to be tied. They are stretchy Nike material that you can just slide on enough. 

Those I can still do by myself, but anything that needs to be laced up, gotten a little bit difficult on getting the right angle.

Laura Birek: Have you found yourself in a situation where your husband’s not home and you’re like, crap, I need to put shoes on?

Keri Hurley: I have not yet, but I have wondered, would I ask the coach at the gym to put them on for me? I don’t know.

Shanna Micko: The neighbor you’ve never met, knock, knock.

Laura Birek: I love it. Hopefully, you’re much closer to being able to reach your toes again than we are.

Keri Hurley: That is the good news.

Shanna Micko: True.

Laura Birek: Shanna, I guess you’re up.

Shanna Micko: All right, ladies. I’ve got a BFP.

Laura Birek: Good.

Shanna Micko: Stool softener.

Laura Birek: Oh, man. Fart noises. This is what we’ve come to.

Shanna Micko: I can’t help it. Oh my God, my two and a half year old daughter makes poop and fart jokes all the time, so it’s in my atmosphere. But anyways, constipation is a common symptom during pregnancy, especially second trimester. You know you’ve got all that progesterone going. Sometimes I just don’t eat enough roughage and I like to pop a little Colace here and there and keeps things moving.

Laura Birek: That’s your brand, Colace?

Shanna Micko: I think that’s the main name. I buy the generic knockoff stuff at CVS or Rite Aid or whatever.

Laura Birek: Of course, I assume it gives you the relief you’re looking for.

Shanna Micko: Oh my God, yeah. Ladies, don’t be afraid to reach for the stool softener, not a laxative. I’ve read, you don’t want to do a laxative while you’re pregnant, but stool softener. I should confirm with Keri.

Keri Hurley: Stool softeners are great because they don’t get absorbed into your body. They only work in your digestive tract, so they don’t affect the baby. Whereas a laxative potentially could be absorbed and also can cause a lot of cramping.

Laura Birek: You don’t need any more cramping.

Keri Hurley: No extra cramping necessary.

Laura Birek: I must say I haven’t had to resort to that because I buy this pasta. It’s called Banza. It’s called Banza Bean Pasta. It’s made from garbanzo bean flour and I think it just does the trick naturally. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

Shanna Micko: Excellent.

Laura Birek: It’s also really good.

Shanna Micko: I was going to say that sounds kind of gross, but is it good?

Laura Birek: It is. I like it better than regular pasta and certain things like with pesto, it adds extra nutty flavor to it and the texture is actually really good. I just cook it like one minute less than what the box says or two minutes. You just have to be a little careful with that, because I feel like they want you to cook it longer. It’s more expensive than regular pasta, but it’s just full of fiber and protein. I started using it when I was eating more low carb before I was pregnant and now I just like it.

Shanna Micko: It’s sweet.

Laura Birek: It does a dual purpose.

Shanna Micko: You got like a double BFP for the week.

Laura Birek: I’ll put a link to Banza Pasta in our show notes.

Shanna Micko: Sounds good.

Laura Birek: On that note, I think that’s our show.

Shanna Micko: I think it is. Fun, thank you again, Keri.

Laura Birek: Thank you so much.

Keri Hurley: Thank you guys for having me. This was a good time.

Shanna Micko: Bye, everyone. Thank you so much for tuning in.

Laura Birek: Thank you.

Shanna Micko: We would love to know where you are in your pregnancy, what your BFPs or BFNs are, or if you have any additional questions about vaccinations or anything else, any questions you have for us, we would love to hear from you. Laura, where can they find us?

Laura Birek: We are on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook at BFP Podcast and if you go to Facebook, you can also join our community group. Just look for BFP Podcast and click on join group. We also have a website, bigfatpositivepodcast.com, where you can find all our show notes and links to things we talked about in the show.

Shanna Micko: Big Fat Positive is produced by Shanna Micko, Laura Birek and Steve Yager.

Laura Birek: Thanks for listening.

Shanna Micko: See you next time.