For new moms and mamas-to-be, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a particularly challenging time. You’re doing a wonderful job, but keeping yourself and your growing baby healthy may feel harder than ever.
The good news is every day experts learn more about the coronavirus, including the safety of COVID-19 vaccines for pregnant and breastfeeding mamas and their babies. Here’s what you need to know about how the COVID-19 vaccines can protect you and your growing family.
I’m Pregnant, or Trying to Get Pregnant: Should I Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Short answer? Yes.
Long answer? The CDC and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommend all pregnant people be vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect themselves and their developing baby. More and more data confirms that not only are the vaccines safe, but they’re effective at preventing COVID-19 infection, severe illness requiring hospitalization, and death. This is incredibly important for pregnant people, as they carry a higher risk of severe illness from the virus than non-pregnant people.
Since the vaccine has become available, scientists have compared the pregnancies of people who have received the vaccine and those who have not. Reports show similar pregnancy outcomes and no safety concerns or increased risk of miscarriage. It is safe for pregnant people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine during any trimester of pregnancy. There is no need to wait until later in pregnancy to receive the vaccine.
When people receive an mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines), their bodies work to build antibodies against COVID-19. In pregnant people, antibodies made after receiving an mRNA vaccine have been found in umbilical cord blood, suggesting that getting vaccinated during pregnancy may help provide protection to your baby, too.
If you’re currently trying to get pregnant or think you might be newly pregnant, you should also get the vaccine. No evidence suggests the vaccine can cause infertility in women or men, and there’s no need to delay getting pregnant after receiving the vaccine.
I’m Breastfeeding or Pumping: Should I Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
For similar reasons as above, the most important benefit of the COVID-19 vaccine is that it will keep you, and in turn your baby, healthier. The vaccine can help prevent COVID-19 infection, severe illness requiring hospitalization, and even death.
There is no need to stop breastfeeding if you want to get a COVID-19 vaccine. In fact, there can be benefits to you and your nursing baby. When you get vaccinated, the antibodies your body creates can be passed through your breastmilk and may help your child develop protection against the virus, too.
Which COVID-19 Vaccine Should I Get if I’m Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
Any of them. All of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines in the United States are proven to be safe and highly effective (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech or Johnson & Johnson/Janssen). All have gone through intense safety studies and health officials continue to track their safety.
If you received one dose of a two-dose vaccine and became pregnant before your second dose, still get your second shot within the appropriate timing to receive as much protection as possible.
What Should I Expect When I Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
Symptoms after receiving any of the COVID-19 vaccines can vary from person to person, and pregnant people have not reported different side effects. Some experience flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, body chills), arm pain, and slight swelling at the injection site. If you have any of these side effects, particularly a fever, you can take acetaminophen (Tylenol) safely while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Although rare, some people have had an allergic reaction after receiving the vaccine. Talk to your provider if you have a history of allergic reaction to any other vaccine or injectable therapy. There is treatment available for those who do have an allergic reaction, and you will be monitored for a period of time after vaccination. If you have any side effects that are worrisome or last more than a few days, contact your provider immediately.
If you want to know more about the COVID-19 vaccines and recommendations for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, schedule time with your provider. While it’s not necessary to chat with them before receiving vaccine, you might find it helpful, or even comforting, to hear your provider’s encouragement.
Where Can I Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?
To find a vaccine through Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health, click here.
If you aren’t local to the Central PA area, check out vaccines.gov to find available vaccines near you.
We know the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging, mama. We encourage you to take the best steps possible to protect yourself and your growing family by getting vaccinated.