Protecting your little one starts long before birth. But delivering during the pandemic may leave you confused on how to best do so—especially given the mixed messages for future parents.
At the beginning of the year, your obstetrician may have advised to wait on receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, since at that time no clinical trials had been performed on pregnant women and their babies. You also may have heard rumors that the vaccines could harm your fertility.
Today, doctors and many top health agencies are urging pregnant women as well as new or prospective moms to get vaccinated.
So, what gives? We’ve got the real deal on what’s led to this change in tune endorsed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American Academy of Pediatrics.
Can my unborn baby get COVID-19 from me receiving the vaccine dose(s) while pregnant?
Rest assured, your baby won’t catch COVID-19 from your shots.
None of the vaccines approved in the U.S. contain live viruses. Nor do they enter cells’ nucleuses, where DNA is stored.
Instead, they trigger an immune response in the body which produces antibodies against the virus that causes COVID-19.
If you find out you’re pregnant after the first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, you should still get the second one. Even better, once fully vaccinated, you share your immunity with your developing baby in utero through the placenta and umbilical cord.
Should I skip or postpone breastfeeding after being vaccinated?
No, your baby benefits from breastfeeding. As with flu shots, nursing protects your newborn by sharing your antibodies while he or she is most vulnerable.
Could I harm my baby by getting vaccinated?
One potential side effect in the first days after your shot is concerning: high fever, which can spike the risk of birth defects during the first trimester. That’s why doctors recommend monitoring your temperature and taking acetaminophen to lower fever during pregnancy.
As for miscarriages, early research shows no rise in them due to the vaccines.
Nor do you need to delay pregnancy before or during your series of shots.
Do COVID-19 vaccines cause infertility?
No. COVID-19 vaccines will not hurt your fertility, including during in vitro fertilization (IVF).
While vaccines disable coronavirus’ spike proteins, they do not alter other spike proteins. So syncitin-1, which helps the placenta grow and attach, is unharmed.
Should I play it safe and postpone my vaccination till after my baby is born?
No. Getting vaccinated is vital: Your baby needs you to be healthy.
Pregnant women who catch COVID-19 are more likely to suffer complications, including preterm birth before the 37th week of pregnancy. They also are more likely to be admitted to intensive care.
Gestational diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure—such as preeclampsia—raise the risk of repercussions from COVID-19 even more.
That’s why the CDC, ACOG and other maternal health groups urge pregnant women to get immunized.
Are trials underway on pregnant women receiving vaccines?
Yes. Pfizer launched a large study of vaccinated pregnant women in February. But results are unlikely by year’s end.
More clinical trials are expected. Meanwhile, the CDC and Food and Drug Administration have released data on vaccinated pregnant women—with no hazards reported so far.
Still need reassurance? As with any concern about pregnancy during the pandemic, talk with your healthcare provider.
The information in this article was accurate as of April 26, 2021.