Can Pregnant Women Get The COVID-19 Vaccination?
3 Min Read
The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world and left us all in shambles. We were introduced to a new normal and many have second thoughts to visit the hospitals in fear of contracting the infection. For a pregnant woman this pandemic has made it even more difficult. A COVID-19 infection when pregnant has additionally brought a lot of uncertainty and anxiety. The answers associated with COVID-19 and pregnancy are not crystal clear yet, but this is no reason to panic. With the COVID-19 vaccination being available to adults above 18 years and recommended for pregnant women as well, many are still skeptical about the efficacy or the risk of it.
How does COVID-19 affect pregnancy?
Pregnant women are not at higher risk of getting infected than the normal population. But if they contract a COVID-19 infection, they are at higher risk of hospitalization than those of the same age and those who are not pregnant. This could be because the body is already working hard, and the growing uterus pushes the lungs upwards, reducing its capacity. The immune system is suppressed so as to not cause harm to the fetus. Pregnant mothers are more likely to have complications like stillbirth or preterm delivery, especially in the last three months of pregnancy. Also, pregnant women with other medical conditions like gestational diabetes or obesity are at higher risk of illness.
There is limited data available on the effects of COVID-19 in the first three months of pregnancy. There is no strong evidence a COVID-19 infection will cause any abnormalities or defects in the fetus or that it can result in miscarriage/abortions.
Roughly two thirds of pregnant women have no symptoms at all and those who have symptoms only have mild flu-like or cold symptoms.
What are the symptoms ofCOVID-19 in pregnancy?
Although pregnant women are at equal risk of developing symptoms when compared to their counterparts – cough and fever seem to be the most common symptoms encountered among the affected. If you have been exposed to COVID-19 positive patients or have symptoms of COVID-19 during your pregnancy, speak with a gynecologist immediately.
Will COVID-19 positive mothers have COVID-19 positive babies?
There is no strong evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted through blood to the newborn. There is no need to withhold breastfeeding as the COVID-19 live virus can not spread through breast milk. Rooming in is recommended as long as the mother is healthy enough to take care of the newborn. But safety precautions like wearing a mask, using sanitizers before and after touching the baby, and following respiratory etiquette help minimize the risk of exposure in Newborns.
Can pregnant women get the COVID-19 vaccine?
There was a lot of ambiguity regarding getting vaccination while pregnancy. But, now with the data available, vaccines are considered safe in pregnancy given that the vaccines which are available do not contain any live virus. By getting vaccinated pregnant women can protect themselves from serious disease and also protect their newborns as antibodies are transferred from mother to fetus. Pregnant women may choose to get vaccinated and can discuss the same with a gynecologist.
There is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccination causes infertility and affects babies. So, women can safely plan for pregnancy irrespective of when they had the vaccination.
Precautions for pregnant women during COVID-19 pandemic
– Hand hygiene: Wash your hands frequently or use sanitizer for at least 20 seconds
– Maintain social distancing (>1m) in public places
– Avoid travel as much as possible
– Wear a face mask covering the nose and mouth
– Avoid touching the face frequently
– Follow respiratory etiquette such as discarding used tissues properly
– Stay home as much as possible
While it may be scary to be pregnant during a pandemic, the facts should be trusted. Don’t self isolate if you’re not advised to, and make sure to stay in touch with family and friends for morale – this is a happy time in your life! That being said, don’t ignore any symptoms that you may have and stay in contact with your general physician and gynecologists throughout your pregnancy to ensure the safety of you and your child.
Watch the video below by Ob-Gyn and laparoscopic surgeon Dr. Amodita Ahuja, who speaks about COVID-19 and pregnancy, vaccination of pregnant women and planning a pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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