If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you probably have a list of health questions specific to COVID-19.
You might be wondering: What happens if I get COVID-19 while pregnant? Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for me to get during pregnancy? What about while I’m breastfeeding? Will COVID-19 or the vaccine affect my ability to get pregnant in the future? What about the health of my current or future baby?
The good news is that the CDC recently released new data on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant people that shed more light on these questions. Following this new data, the CDC is recommending people who are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant or breastfeeding to get vaccinated. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine recommends this as well.
Three reasons to get the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy
Part of this is because pregnant people have a higher risk of getting seriously sick from COVID-19. During pregnancy, changes in your hormones and immune system can make it easier to get very sick from respiratory viruses like the one that causes COVID-19. These changes in the body can continue after pregnancy, too. Underlying medical conditions and other factors, such as age, can further increase this risk. Severe illness can result in hospitalization, intensive care or death.
Here are some of the reasons why you should get a COVID-19 vaccine, especially if you’re pregnant or planning to be:
- To protect yourself from infection: Receiving an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy reduces your risk of infection. In a study from Israel, scientists found that vaccination lowered the risk of infection from the virus.
- To support a healthy pregnancy: Pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk for preterm birth (delivering before 37 weeks) and preeclampsia. They’re also at higher risk for other adverse pregnancy outcomes.
- To protect your baby from COVID-19: When pregnant people receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy, they build antibodies against COVID-19. These antibodies have been found in umbilical cord blood. This means COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy might help protect babies against COVID-19. Recent reports have also shown that breastfeeding people who have received the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, too.
New data addresses other common pregnancy fears
Some other findings in the recent data can address additional pregnancy fears you might have.
- Miscarriage: CDC did NOT find an increased risk of miscarriage associated with vaccination. Data was taken from over 2,500 pregnant people in the v-safe pregnancy registry who received an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Scientists found that miscarriage rates among the vaccinated (13 percent) were similar to the typical rates in the general population (11 to 16 percent).
- Safety: Data from three safety monitoring systems did not find any safety concerns for pregnant people who were vaccinated late in their pregnancies.
- Fertility: There is NO evidence that any vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, cause fertility problems in women or men. You may have heard that the spike protein in COVID-19 (the one your body makes antibodies to in response to the vaccine) is the similar to a spike protein in the placenta. Some people were initially concerned that the immune system would not be able to differentiate between the two. However, this is untrue, as the overall makeup of placenta protein is different.
If you have questions or concerns about getting vaccinated, you should talk to your health care provider.
If you would like to speak to someone about COVID-19 vaccination during pregnancy, you can contact MotherToBaby, a suggested resource by CDC, by calling 1-866-626-6847.
And if you are interested in getting a COVID-19 vaccine, learn more about Mercy Health’s vaccination efforts.