Two very exciting developments are now taking place in NOLA—the upcoming arrival of your baby and the opportunity for everyone age 16 or older to be vaccinated against COVID-19. We know that you, as an expectant mom, probably have a lot of questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and if it’s safe for you and your baby.
Let’s talk safety
The scientific community is working hard to gather information about the effects of the COVID-19 vaccine on pregnant women and their babies. Pregnant women in Louisiana have been eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine since February, and the good news is there haven’t been any reports in Louisiana of negative effects on pregnant women who have received the vaccine. If you’re pregnant, we encourage you to talk with your healthcare provider about the timing of your COVID-19 vaccine.
Why get the vaccine?
Pregnant women are more likely to become gravely ill due to COVID-19. If you contract COVID-19 during your pregnancy, you are at increased risk of:
- Needing to be hospitalized in the ICU and connected to a machine to help you breathe
- Delivering your baby early
A recent study of the three different COVID-19 vaccines tested in animals didn’t show any safety concerns related to pregnancy. Additionally, a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found women who had the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines developed immunity to COVID-19. On top of that, immunity passed from mother to child through the placenta before birth and breast milk after delivery.
Is timing everything?
Because the vaccines are so new, information about which stage of pregnancy is the best to receive the vaccine isn’t known, but we recommend getting the vaccine as soon as possible. If you decide to wait until after delivering your baby, take additional care now to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19 by following other best practices, including:
- Frequent handwashing
- Social distancing
What about breastfeeding?
We’re sure you’ve read that breastfeeding is the best way you can provide your baby with needed nutrients. We’ve heard from many new moms who are naturally concerned about how the COVID-19 vaccine might affect breast milk, and we’re happy to say early studies show only benefits.
In fact, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are made similarly to other vaccinations that are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding moms and their babies. This particular type of vaccine works by
teaching our cells how to launch an immune response without reproducing in the body. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is created using a modified virus, but it, too, is made similarly to other vaccines that are safe for pregnant women. This is encouraging information to consider when you are deciding when to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
What if I’m planning a pregnancy?
Some of you have asked us if getting the vaccine can affect fertility. If you’re planning to become pregnant, you’ll be glad to know there’s isn’t any reason to believe the COVID-19 vaccine interferes with fertility or affects pregnancy.
The CDC, which exists to protect us from disease, says there’s no need to have a pregnancy test before getting a COVID-19 vaccine nor avoid pregnancy after getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Talk with your obstetrician about the COVID-19 vaccine. If you decide to get vaccinated, you can schedule your appointment through the LCMC Health patient portal or by calling (504) 290-5200.