What do we now know about the effects of COVID-19 infection during pregnancy?
Research shows that the consequences for mothers include an increased risk of pneumonia and severe illness leading to hospitalization, intensive care, intubation, and in rare cases death. Some studies have identified increased risks of preeclampsia, which causes dangerously high blood pressure, and blood clots. COVID-19 infection also increases the risk of prematurity and stillbirth, with the risk depending on the circulating variant.
What do we know about the latest omicron variants and subvariants during pregnancy?
There is limited data on the omicron variant in pregnancy and even less on the newer subvariants. Available data supports our experience with patients, which is that the omicron variant results in less severe infections than previous variants. That is consistent with the experience of people who aren’t pregnant. Importantly, vaccination also significantly decreases the chance of a severe omicron infection.
What is the vaccine recommendation for pregnancy?
The CDC and the leading pregnancy associations, ACOG and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, say if you are pregnant, you should be fully vaccinated and receive a booster to optimize the safety of your pregnancy.
Pregnancy is not a specific reason to seek out a second booster shot. However, some pregnant people over 50 or those who are immunocompromised may choose to receive an additional booster, so we recommend you speak with your doctor if that applies to you.
What has research on COVID-19 and pregnancy shown?
Data on both the safety and efficacy of the vaccines in pregnancy is very reassuring. COVID-19 vaccines have not been associated with miscarriage, preterm delivery, stillbirth, or birth defects. Vaccination in pregnancy results in maternal protection against COVID-19 and transfers protective antibodies to the baby, regardless of the timing of vaccination during pregnancy. Recent data also demonstrate that vaccination during pregnancy decreases the chance of the infant testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 and, in the first six months of the baby’s life, of hospitalization due to COVID-19.
Should breastfeeding mothers get the vaccine?
Breastfeeding mothers should also receive a COVID-19 vaccine series and a booster in accordance with CDC recommendations. There’s no evidence that the vaccine gets into breast milk and can in any way get to the child. We give vaccines to lactating women all the time. And we definitely don’t want people to stop breastfeeding to get the vaccine. In fact, research shows that vaccinated mothers who are nursing pass through breast milk antibodies that may help protect their babies from COVID-19.