Covid 19 Vaccine during Pregnancy & Lactation
This past year has taught us so much about navigating a pandemic. As news of a COVID-19 vaccine surfaced, we began to wonder whether vaccination could be safe and effective for pregnant and lactating women.
Initially, very little information existed on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnant and lactating women because they were not part of testing. Still, experts strongly recommended that pregnant and breastfeeding women have access to the COVID-19 vaccines. And now that recommendation is even stronger.
In March 2021 a study of pregnant and lactating women who received the COVID-19 vaccine found that the current COVID-19 vaccines stimulate more antibodies than are produced by getting the infection.
In addition, antibodies that were produced after the women were vaccinated were found in umbilical cord blood and in breastmilk, allowing mothers to “share” immunity with their baby through the placenta and when breastfeeding their baby.
SEE ALSO: Keep Yourself & Baby Safe During COVID
While experts haven’t yet determined the very best time to get the vaccine during pregnancy, the study seems to suggest that the more time between the second dose of the vaccine and the birth of the baby, the higher the level of antibodies present in the umbilical cord. This means getting the vaccine earlier in pregnancy may offer greater protection to your baby after they’re born.
Side effects from the vaccine were similar for pregnant and non-pregnant women. For most women, the risk of becoming sick with the COVID-19 infection during pregnancy and suffering severe illness will outweigh the potential risk of side effects from the vaccine.
SEE ALSO: Pregnant During COVID-19
Recent studies have shown that pregnant women are more likely to have severe COVID disease, especially if they are older, have a higher body mass index (BMI), or have other health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, or chronic kidney disease. People of color, especially Latina and Black women, continue to have disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19 infection and death. There also seems to be a higher rate of preterm birth and stillbirth among pregnant women with COVID-19 infection, whether they have symptoms or not.
Reduce Your Risk of COVID-19
If you don’t get vaccinated, be sure to reduce your risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus by following the following guidelines:
● stay home as much as possible
● stay at least 6 feet away from other people if you need to go out
● avoid people who are sick
● wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
● clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if you can’t wash them (rub until your hands feel dry)
● avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
Healthy Mom& Baby has many articles to help you through your pregnancy, and keep you and your baby in good health, written by the nurses at AWHONN, see our Healthy Moms and Healthy Pregnancy and Healthy Baby sections.