Covid-19 Vaccine & Pregnancy: What You Need To Know
Lesley Gilchrist, registered midwife and co-founder of My Expert Midwife, has some really useful information for you.
The latest data suggests that more than 99% of pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 are unvaccinated and with the number of mums-to-be in hospital with the virus rising, pregnant women are now being advised to get the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as possible.
The new guidance has left many pregnant women feeling anxious and confused as to why the clinical direction has changed since the onset of the pandemic. This has been amplified by a raft of conflicting information available in the public forum. Although a little obvious, it is important to remind ourselves that this is a new virus and as such our knowledge base is growing and the advice changes as the evidence evolves.
Understanding that pregnancy can be daunting enough without this additional uncertainty, here, Lesley Gilchrist, registered midwife and co-founder of My Expert Midwife, distils the clinical evidence behind the Covid-19 vaccination, so that mums-to-be can feel equipped with the knowledge they need to make an informed choice which is right for themselves and their baby.
So, what are the latest facts?
According to a vast amount of research conducted by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), pregnant women should be offered a Covid-19 vaccination at the same time as the rest of the population, based on age and clinical risk.
Pregnant women should be offered either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, unless they have already received one dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine (in which case they should complete the course with Oxford-AstraZeneca).
The reason the advice has changed is due to new data from recently published studies. For instance, of the 120,000+ women from diverse ethnic backgrounds in the USA who received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, no evidence of harm has been identified. In fact, two studies of over 100 women who were vaccinated discovered antibodies in infant cord blood and breast milk – highlighting the benefits for both mum and baby.
If you are pregnant and considering getting the vaccine, you might be wondering when (if at all) is the best time to get it, and whether this will impact your pregnancy or your baby.
The clinical guidance from the RCOG states that Covid-19 vaccines can be given at any point during pregnancy. However, if you are at a higher risk of contracting infection, or of becoming severely ill from Covid-19, the vaccine should be offered at the earliest opportunity – including in the first trimester.
Ideally, women should aim to have their vaccine before the third trimester as it takes time for immunity to develop and protection from the virus is much higher after the second dose.
For women who are breastfeeding, there is no need to stop breastfeeding to have the vaccine, and for those who are undergoing or planning to undergo fertility treatment, there is also no need to delay receiving the vaccine.
While most women who contract Covid-19 in pregnancy will have no, or very minor symptoms, some women will develop critical illness from Covid-19. The risk of severe illness from Covid-19 is higher for pregnant women than for non-pregnant women, particularly in the third trimester, and there is now growing evidence that women in late pregnancy, who are admitted to hospital to treat symptoms of Covid-19, are more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit than non-pregnant women with symptomatic Covid-19.
Unfortunately, for women who do contract Covid-19, and have symptoms of the virus during pregnancy, there is a two to three times greater risk of preterm birth than those who do not.
If you are pregnant and fall into any of the following categories, you may be at a greater risk of needing hospital treatment if you contract Covid-19 in pregnancy:
- You are of Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background
- You have a high BMI of 25kg/m2 or more
- You have pre-pregnancy medical conditions, such as pre-existing diabetes and chronic hypertension
- You are 35 years or older
The scientific evidence encourages pregnant women to have the vaccine, however, should you choose not to, it’s advised that you take precautions during pregnancy to protect yourself from contracting the virus. These include:
- Regular and thorough hand-washing throughout the day
- Avoid crowded indoor spaces and consider how many people/who you are meeting
- Where possible, meet people outdoors
- When meeting indoors, open the windows and doors to allow air to circulate
- Maintain a distance and use a face covering if you’re in crowded spaces such as shops or public transport
By Lesley Gilchrist, registered midwife and co-founder of My Expert Midwife
For media enquiries, contact email@example.com
About My Expert Midwife
My Expert Midwife was founded in 2017 by midwife and mum duo Lesley Gilchrist and Claire Charlton, inspired by their mutual understanding of the reality of the physical recovery challenges that women face during pregnancy, childbirth and beyond.
Drawing from their personal experience and professional areas of expertise they have worked together to create a range of no-nonsense skincare products developed to tackle taboos around pregnancy and childbirth for new and expectant mums and new babies.
Midwife developed and glowingly recommended by thousands of mums, the award-winning products – including Spritz for Bits, No Harm Nipple Balm, Fantastic Skin Elastic and Peri Prep Your Bits – can help to soothe and relieve the physical symptoms and side effects commonly experienced in pregnancy, childbirth and early motherhood.
Cover image credit: Imperial College NHS Trust
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