Most pregnant people spend a lot of time Googling. You might wonder if your symptoms are normal, what your baby looks like at different weeks gestation, what labor feels like and what exactly you’re supposed to do when you can’t reach your feet to put on shoes anymore. While the answers to some questions can be found easily through an online search, it can be hard to find accurate information about one of women’s biggest concerns today: pregnancy and COVID-19. Luckily, the experts at Kaiser Permanente have answers to your most pressing questions.
Whether you just saw that second line, are starting to feel flutters or are days away from your due date, we have answers you need to know. Read on to find out what Dr. Emily West, Obstetrician and Gynecologist at Kaiser Permanente Northwest, has to say.
Kaiser Permanente has a 1-to-1 nurse-to-patient ratio at its birth centers and 13 pediatric specialties. Learn more about what sets Kaiser Permanente’s maternity care apart.
Is COVID-19 More Dangerous for Pregnant Women?
Pregnant patients that develop symptomatic COVID-19 are at increased risk of more severe illness compared with people who are not pregnant and have a higher risk of ICU admission, need for mechanical ventilation and death. Pregnant women who have other underlying conditions such as diabetes or obesity may be at an even higher risk of severe illness. Pregnant patients with more severe COVID-19 illness have also been found to have a higher risk of perinatal complications such as: developing blood clots, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, preterm delivery, and an increased risk of cesarean birth.
Is It Safe to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine If You’re Pregnant?
Though pregnant individuals were excluded from the initial studies of the vaccines, they are felt to be safe for pregnancy based on how they work. Thousands of pregnant individuals have received the vaccines and a vaccine registry (v-safe) thus far has demonstrated no increased risk of adverse outcomes for pregnant women or their babies.
Will Getting a COVID-19 Vaccine While Pregnant Harm the Baby?
No, there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines given during pregnancy harm the baby. The vaccines do not alter human DNA and cannot cause any genetic changes. In fact, current data shows that babies of patients who receive the COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy are born with protective COVID-19 antibodies and can continue to receive these antibodies through breastmilk. This can be an important way of providing protection from COVID-19 to newborns.
Kaiser Permanente has a Level III NICU, meaning they have the ability to treat critically ill newborns and those as young as 23 weeks. Learn more about Kaiser Permanente’s maternity care.
Is There a Vaccine That Is More Effective Than Others for Pregnant Women?
Each of the available COVID-19 vaccines is felt to have the same efficacy in pregnant and nonpregnant individuals.
What Advice Would You Give to Pregnant Women Who Are Still Deciding on If They Should Get the Vaccine or Not?
Choosing whether to receive a vaccination is always a consideration of risks and benefits. Important considerations include the level of virus activity in the community, the efficacy of the vaccine, the risk and potential severity of maternal disease and the safety of the vaccine for the pregnant patient and the fetus.
Because the COVID-19 vaccine has been shown to be efficacious and low risk for pregnant women, I encourage my patients to consider being vaccinated. Along with the simple measures of social distancing and masking, vaccination is the best way for a pregnant patient to obtain additional protection from severe disease for themselves and their babies.
Kaiser Permanente’s maternity care has hydrotherapy tubs, lactation consultants, free Wi-Fi and even room service. Learn more.
If I Am Vaccinated When I Deliver Can I Bring My Baby around Other Vaccinated People?
To protect a newborn from infection from COVID-19 as well as other infectious diseases such as whooping cough, I recommend a strategy called “cocooning.” Cocooning protects the baby from infection by ensuring mom gets vaccinated during pregnancy and that all family members and close caregivers get vaccinated prior to delivery. In addition to cocooning, parents should continue to follow local public health recommendations on distancing and masking.