Perhaps you’re thinking about starting a family. Maybe you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. We understand that you, like many, are dealing with unknowns around the COVID-19 pandemic and now the vaccine; and, if you are thinking of growing your family, or recently had a baby, it may present even more questions. Countless questions may be running through your mind and it can be difficult to know what to do. Should I get vaccinated? Will the vaccine affect my baby? Should I wait? We hope this resource provides you with information to ease your mind, answer some of your questions and help guide you in the right direction for you and your family.
What are the risks to me and my baby If I’m pregnant and get infected with COVID-19?
Similar to women who are not pregnant, pregnant women who get infected with the COVID-19 virus may experience a variety of symptoms. Studies have shown that pregnant women who get infected with COVID-19 are at risk for experiencing more severe illness from the virus. They are at a greater risk of needing intensive hospital care (ICU admission) and ventilator support. In addition, we have seen an increased risk of preterm labor for pregnant women with the virus and baby’s growth severely affected. So far, we haven’t seen an increase in or risk of birth defects or miscarriages.
If you think you may have COVID-19, it’s important to get tested right away. Rest assured, Prevea has the medical experts and support to help you through a healthy pregnancy and delivery, as well as dedicated care for your newborn.
Prevea provides COVID-19 testing at no cost for those exhibiting symptoms of the virus or for those who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. For more information and to schedule a test, visit www.myprevea.com
to schedule a lab test.
Safe and best practices are in place for prenatal appointments in the clinic and in the hospital during your labor, delivery and hospital stay. If you test positive for COVID-19, you will not be cared for differently nor will you be separated from your baby in the hospital.
Should I get the vaccine if I’m pregnant? What are health experts recommending?
Health experts are recommending the COVID-19 vaccine for pregnant women. The vaccine cannot cause infertility and can be administered at any point throughout pregnancy. For most patients, there is a higher risk for pregnant and breastfeeding women from getting COVID-19 than those who get the vaccine. Not only will the vaccine prevent you from getting COVID-19, but your body will also pass on the protective anti-bodies created from the vaccine to your child. Therefore, the recommendation is that pregnant and breastfeeding women should be treated no differently than the general public for getting the vaccine.
Have an honest discussion with your OB or midwife about your concerns, your individual health conditions and the risks, what to expect and what we do and don’t know about the COVID-19 vaccine. This will help you understand and weigh the risks associated with getting COVID-19 illness versus the risks and benefits of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. You can then work together to develop a plan that works best for you in deciding to vaccinate yourself or not; and if so, when is the best time.
I’m breastfeeding. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
The CDC, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine all recommend getting the COVID-19 vaccine while breastfeeding.
By getting the vaccine while breastfeeding, not only will you protect yourself from getting sick from COVID-19 but the antibodies that your body forms when you get the vaccine may also cross into your breastmilk and help protect baby too. In general, when your body forms antibodies, those antibodies go through your breastmilk to protect your baby. There is no proof yet of this with COVID-19 antibodies because studies are ongoing right now with breastfeeding women, but there is certainly no reason to believe there would be any harm in breastfeeding after getting the vaccine.
How do we know the vaccine is safe if it hasn’t been tested on pregnant or breastfeeding women?
Studies are continuing to collect data, but more than 139,000 people have been studied after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy. Of the 139,000 people, no one reported any safety concerns. The vaccine went through all FDA mandates and phases, so there’s no reason to consider the vaccine unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
In addition, we know a lot about the science behind way the vaccine is made and what’s in it. It’s not a live vaccine and it doesn’t give you or your baby the virus, so there’s no reason to believe the vaccine wouldn’t be safe in pregnancy for mom or baby.
Should I wait until a certain trimester to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
There is no data right now to prove that there is a best time to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and no evidence to say that one trimester would be better or worse than any other trimester. In general, it is recommended to get the vaccine as soon as possible.
The first trimester, especially the first 8-10 weeks, is when baby’s building blocks are forming – organs and neuro development is taking place. While this is the time we typically advise pregnant women avoid certain medications, etc., this has not yet been proven to the case with pregnant women and the COVID-19 vaccine. Current data shows women who have received the vaccine during any trimester, including their first trimester, have had no increased risks of pregnancy loss, growth problems or birth defects.
I’m trying to get pregnant. Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine now or wait?
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, women should not delay getting the vaccine if they are attempting to get pregnant or going through fertility treatment. A delay in receiving the vaccine may put you and your baby in greater danger than without it.
Preventive medical care and making sure you are healthy (health maintenance and optimizing your health) before conception is very important for the health of mom and baby. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine before pregnancy is recommended for health maintenance as a way to optimize your health. In addition, it decreases your risk of getting COVID-19 during pregnancy.
If you’re trying to become pregnant, it’s hard to know how long it will take. The components of the COVID-19 vaccine are actually likely out of your body within days. After that, your body is making the protein – there are no foreign components in your body after the initial injection. Therefore, there is no reason to think anything harmful from the vaccine is in your body that would affect you or your baby upon conception.
Could COVID-19 or the COVID-19 vaccine affect my fertility?
Currently, there is no proof that COVID-19 or the COVID-19 vaccine has any effect on the chances of getting pregnant or of affecting your baby. This is mainly because we now have data around the COVID-19 virus in pregnancy. In those who had COVID-19 in pregnancy, we haven’t seen infertility or an increase in miscarriages which leads us to believe there would be no concern with the vaccine either.
Click here to learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines and fertility.
Could the COVID-19 vaccine affect my DNA or the DNA of my baby?
There is no way the COVID-19 vaccine will enter into or alter your DNA or the DNA of your baby. Even if you get pregnant shortly after getting the vaccine, no genetic changes will happen to your baby in the womb.
What’s in the vaccine and how does it work?
The COVID-19 vaccine is a messenger RNA (MRNA) vaccine that acts like a blueprint to help your body form protection against future exposure to the virus.
Basically, the messenger RNA is wrapped in a lipid/fat molecule with salt and sugar (and polyethylene glycol). There are no preservatives in the vaccine.* The vaccine goes into your muscle cells; it doesn’t go anywhere near your DNA. Your body takes instruction from the messenger RNA blueprint to use amino acids, the building blocks of protein, and makes a harmless protein needed to fight the COVID-19 virus. After your cells make the protein, they destroy the material from the vaccine so the messenger RNA is gone from your body.
*You should NOT get the vaccine if you:
- Had a severe allergic reaction to any ingredient of the COVID-19 vaccine (including polyethylene glycol)
- Had a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of the vaccine
- Currently have symptoms of COVID-19 infection
- Unprotected close contact with someone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days
- Received convalescent plasma or a monoclonal antibody product (e.g. bamlanivimab) within the past 90 days
If I had COVID-19 before or during pregnancy, do I have COVID-19 antibodies and do I need the vaccine?
If you’ve been previously infected with COVID-19, either before you became pregnant or during pregnancy, the CDC recommends you should still get the vaccine. Why?
It is unknown how long immunity lasts from COVID-19 infection whereas immunity from the vaccine is more predictable.
In addition, it is unknown how much antibody is necessary for immunity, and if or how long you’d have COVID-19 antibodies after you’ve been cleared from the illness.
There simply hasn’t been enough time to research all the variables involved with cases of COVID-19 infection; therefore, the predictably of natural
immunity is unknown. While the predictably of induced
immunity from a vaccine is still unknown, immunity from the vaccine is easier to measure over time because we are able to quantifiably measure consistent results.
If I had the COVID-19 virus, could I have a more severe reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine?
There isn’t any evidence to say people, pregnant or not, who had COVID-19 are experiencing a more severe reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine than those who did not previously test positive for COVID-19. Pregnancy would not change that.
If you had COVID-19 and you get the vaccine, you will likely have a good response to the vaccine because it’s your immune system working. However, we have not seen more severe responses or reactions in those who had the virus compared to in those who did not have the virus. In all cases, symptoms have been often short lived, ranging from 12-24 hours.
Is there an alternative option to fight COVID-19, other than the vaccine?
At this time, there is not an alternative option, such as herbs, supplements or any other natural technique, that has been proven to come close to being as successful as the COVID-19 vaccine.
This truly is a good vaccine in numbers – the efficacy rate is good. We want to do everything possible to ensure pregnancies and labors are as normal and healthy as possible. Our goal is to keep pregnant patients from getting sick from COVID-19 and the vaccine is a good way to keep pregnancy and labor progressing as normal so that things go well for mom and baby.
In addition, there are no preservatives (i.e. aluminum or thimerosal) in the COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, that’s why it needs to be frozen because there are no added components to preserve it.
We understand your concern around only putting things in your body that have been well-tested, but for the sake of yourself and your unborn or breastfeeding child, we are here to support you in your decision. We urge you to talk to your OB or midwife to weigh the risks and benefits in order to help you make an educated decision that’s best for you.
For more information and resources about pregnancy and COVID-19, including the vaccine, visit:
If you have concerns about information you’re hearing or articles you’ve read, make sure to take them to your OB or midwife.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine in general, listen to Prevea’s Plug in to Health Podcast “COVID-19 – The Vaccine.”