Covid Vaccine and Pregnancy
How Does Covid-19 Affect Pregnant Women?
By now, the danger Covid-19 poses to all individuals is no secret. Among symptomatic pregnant people, however, the risk of complications and severe illness tends to be higher. Also, some pregnant women might have a prior illness or disease that could increase the risks further.
When infected with the disease, pregnant patients can end up requiring a higher level of care, such as mechanical ventilation and breathing support.
Certain health information suggests that severe Covid-19 infections can also increase the risk of preterm birth. Also, though cases are rare, it is possible for mothers to transmit the virus to their babies during pregnancies. Fortunately, studies have not shown Covid-19 to cause any birth defects.
The mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine and the General Public
The mRNA coronavirus vaccine does not contain any virus particles. On top of that, your body will eliminate the mRNA particles the vaccines use in a few hours or days.
According to studies and clinical trials, the mRNA vaccines have an efficacy of up to 92% in protecting people against Covid-19. Based on trials, its effect usually starts 14 days after receiving the first dose. Also, based on current evidence, the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines are just as effective when dealing with the new Covid variants.
Various health governing bodies like the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have assessed the mRNA vaccines' safety and have found them to be mostly safe.
Individuals who are prone to severe allergic reactions, however, should not take the vaccine. All those who receive the vaccine will be observed. Healthcare providers will follow up on those who have an immediate and severe allergic reaction, advising them not to receive additional doses.
The Pfizer & Moderna Covid-19 Vaccines and Pregnancy
Though the vaccine trial participants did not include any pregnant people or breastfeeding women, and our direct information is still somewhat limited, safety data from the American College of Obstetricians show that the mRNA vaccines pose no risk for pregnant individuals.
Seeing that our bodies eliminate the vaccine’s particles within a few hours or days, the mRNA particles are unlikely to cross and reach the placenta. Also, the immunity that you would generate from getting the vaccine could reach your placenta and might help keep your baby safe after delivery.
A possible side effect of the vaccines that could be of concern is fever, as prolonged fevers during pregnancy might cause birth defects. Fortunately, these cases are rare and the fevers the vaccines cause are short-term side effects. Other side effects include joint pain and muscle pain.
On top of that, the fevers tend to be low-grade. You can manage them using acetaminophen, which is safe for pregnant women to take.
The Food and Drug Administration currently authorizes that the Covid-19 vaccine should not be withheld from pregnant individuals who decide to get it. We, however, recommend that you consult with your doctor or health care provider to discuss all the factors surrounding the Covid-19 vaccines and your pregnancy.
What To Consider About Covid Vaccines and Pregnancy
If you are thinking about getting the Covid-19 vaccination during your pregnancy, there are several factors and options you should consider and discuss with your doctor or healthcare provider.
One factor to consider is the pandemic level in your community. It is also important to remember that the relationship between the safety of Covid-19 vaccines and pregnancy is yet to be extensively studied.
Once you do discuss such factors with your doctor, there are various options you could consider taking. Pregnant individuals could get the vaccination as soon as it is available if they have the potential for exposure or additional risk factors like high blood pressure.
You could also defer getting the mRNA vaccination, choosing instead limiting your exposure and using protective measures like mask-wearing, physical distancing, and hand-washing. You can then get the vaccination either during the second trimester, when natural risks of miscarriage are lower, or after your baby is born.
Before going with this option, however, we recommend asking if the vaccine will still be available at a later date.
If your decision is to get vaccinated during your pregnancy, the CDC and World Health Organization recommend doing so at least 14 days before or after other vaccinations like the Tdap and flu shot vaccines.
Can You Get the Vaccine if You Are Breastfeeding?
If you are thinking about waiting until after you give birth to get the vaccine, you might be wondering if it will affect breastfeeding.
Though the effects of the vaccine on nursing and lactating women have not been extensively studied, based on current data, the Covid-19 vaccine is safe for breastfeeding women. The vaccine does not have a live virus, so it will pose no risk to you or your baby, and there will be no need for you to discontinue or delay breastfeeding.
After receiving the vaccine, your muscles will use up the mRNA particles the vaccine contains, making it unlikely for them to find their way into your breast milk. Even if the particles do reach your breast milk, your baby will most likely digest them without experiencing any side effects.
Not only is the vaccine safe for breastfeeding individuals, experts highly recommend it. When you get the vaccine, your immune system will develop antibodies that will protect you against Covid. Through your breast milk, you can pass these antibodies to your baby, allowing them to protect your baby from Covid-19 as well.
While there are still questions we are yet to answer regarding the Covid-19 vaccine, early data is promising. Though the decision is yours, considering the increased risk people are under, getting the vaccine provides you with the best way to ensure you protect yourself, your partner, and your unborn baby from contracting the Covid-19 virus.
- Jennifer Akiyama