The whooping cough vaccine, or the Tdap, hurts like hell. First, there’s that sting as it goes into the muscle. Then there’s the bruise and sore arm, but — if you are anything like super sensitive me — you may also have a completely useless arm. For a week. (No joke. Every time I get this vaccine my arm is, well, worthless.)
So when I found out it was recommended for all pregnant women, I was annoyed. I mean, I was really left with no choice but to get — I wanted to protect my unborn baby and myself — but I was ticked off, like swearing mad. But instead of moping I decided to do some experimenting after I received my shot, in hopes that I could ease some of the pain. And it worked! I had very minimal soreness and I could use my arm. (Yay!) Keep reading to find out how you can minimize the pain for your whooping cough vaccine…
Don’t plan for the shot.
If you know you are getting an injection, you may get yourself worked up and stressed out. (Like me.) So in order to avoid said stress, I didn’t make an appointment to get the shot. I actually wasn’t sure my OB even gave the shot. I just went in for a routine appointment and, on my way out, asked if they gave the vaccine. Sure enough they could — and did — and it all happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to build anxiety and tension in my muscles.
(OK, OK: I did have about 10 minutes between mentioning the shot and actually getting it — and those 10 minutes were very tense — but when the nurse was ready I asked if I could go into a room and lay down. I grabbed some tissues, lied down, closed my eyes, and took deep breaths.)
Keep everything moving.
Afterward receiving the shot I moved my arm in a circular motion, up and down, and basically all around. Once I got home, I made sure to keep using the arm (which, in my case, meant making mini chocolate-coated caramel apples). Why? We’ll not only was this a great way to get my muscles working, it was a great way to make a nice treat for myself.
But the “exercise” didn’t stop there: Once I was finished with the apples, I did some more arm stretches: lifting my arm over my head, more circles, fake lifting weights, just about anything that really got my arm muscle working and moving.
I just kept moving and working through the soreness.
Four words: hot compress and massage.
By the time evening came around, I could tell that that soreness was easing up a bit, so I got a hot compress and placed it on my arm. After 15 minutes I traded the warm compress for 15 minutes of massage and movement, and then I went to bed. And guess what? The next morning I woke up and my arm was almost completely free of pain. (Hooray!) Of course, I continued to stretch and exercise the area throughout the day, and even applied a few more warm compresses but before long the soreness was gone.
Disclaimer: This is based off my personal experience and what worked for me. You should also discuss the side-effects of the vaccine with your doctor and ask their advice.