As of 5/2021
Should I get the COVID-19 Vaccine?
- The guidelines will rapidly evolve as more data is collected about the vaccines.
- A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine came out from the “v-safe after vaccination health checker” following 35,691 individuals who identified as pregnant after getting their COVID-19 vaccine (a combination of Moderna and Pfizer). Injection-site pain was reported more frequently among pregnant individuals than nonpregnant, whereas headache, myalgia, chills, and fever were reported less frequently. Of those participants only 827 were able to be reached after their pregnancy in order to inquire about pregnancy outcomes. They found that “although not directly comparable [because of smaller sample size], the proportions of adverse pregnancy and neonatal outcomes (e.g. fetal loss, preterm birth, small size for gestational age, congenital anomalies, and neonatal death) among participants with completed pregnancies from the v-safe pregnancy registry appear to be similar to the published incidences in pregnant populations studied before the Covid-19 pandemic.” Read the article here.
- A study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology (AJOG) on 03/25/2021 that studied 84 pregnant, 31 lactating, and 16 non-pregnant individuals receiving the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine, and they found that there was a robust immune response (IgG, IgA, and IgM antibodies) in pregnant and lactating individuals 2-6 weeks after the second dose, just as in non-pregnant, and the adverse effects were similar across groups. They also found even higher immune responses in individuals who had been infected with COVID-19 during their pregnancy. In addition, they found an immune response (antibodies) in umbilical cord blood, which may indicate that protective antibodies can be passed through the placenta to the fetus, as well as in breastmilk samples, which may indicate that protective antibodies can be passed by breastfeeding. The study can be found here.
- The current vaccines being used include the Pfizer-BioNtech mRNA vaccine, the Moderna COVID-19 mRNA, and the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine. See more detailed information in our vaccines section.
- As of 12/21/2020 (and updated on 2/2/20), The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommended that COVID-19 vaccines should not be withheld from pregnant individuals, and they should be given to lactating individuals who meet criteria. They, and the CDC discuss that since the risks of a severe COVID-19 infection are higher in pregnant individuals than the general population, the benefits of the vaccine may outweigh those possible risks. However, the CDC emphasizes that getting the vaccine while pregnant is a personal choice. Pregnant and lactating patients will be supported regardless of their decision to become vaccinated.
- To decide if a vaccine is right for you, a conversation with your healthcare worker about the level of activity of the virus in your community, potential efficacy, side effects, and safety for the pregnant individual and the fetus can be helpful. However, although it may be helpful, a conversation with a clinician is not required to get the vaccine, as this may cause unnecessary barriers to vaccine access. For more information about FDA approved COVID-19 vaccines, please see the FDA COVID-19 Vaccine website.
- Please reference our vaccine section for more vaccine specific information.
Am I at increased risk of getting the virus as a pregnant person?
- Although information at this time regarding COVID-19 is limited in pregnant patients, data suggest that pregnant women are at the same risk of contracting the virus as non-pregnant people.
- However, according to the CDC, pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people. A recent study from the CDC shows that pregnant women may be more likely to have severe illness and be hospitalized from COVID-19 than non-pregnant women, and may be at an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preterm birth. The study also shows that non-hispanic black pregnant women have been affected more than other pregnant women.
- The CDC recommends that pregnant women and individuals who live with them take the necessary precautions to prevent contracting the virus including washing hands or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, wearing masks, avoiding touching your face, and practicing social distancing.
- It is known that pregnant women are more likely to contract the seasonal influenza and other respiratory viruses compared to non-pregnant individuals. It is important to keep this in mind and to be cautious by practicing social distancing and maintaining good personal hygiene.
Should I wear a mask?
- The American College of OBGYNs (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women follow the same guidelines as non-pregnant individuals regarding masks, which is the same as the CDC’s recommendation, to wear non-surgical masks or cloth face coverings when near other individuals that you do not live with. This holds true regardless of if you have been vaccinated or not.
- In healthcare facilities:
- All persons entering a health care facility should wear a cloth face covering or facemask.
- Patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should wear a facemask or cloth face covering when interacting with healthcare providers or when leaving their room.
- Be sure to adhere to respiratory hygiene, cough etiquette, and hand hygiene and follow triage procedures throughout the duration of the visit.
- Outside of the healthcare setting:
- Wear a mask if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have confirmed COVID-19 when you are in public or around others.
- If you are healthy and asymptomatic, especially in areas with many cases, the CDC recommends wearing a cloth mask if you are out in the community, especially in a public place where it is difficult to maintain social distancing such as in the grocery store or pharmacy.
- Please follow all local mandates and regulations regarding wearing masks and social distancing while in public.
- Cloth masks are acceptable face coverings. You do not need to wear an N95 or surgical mask.
- The CDC does not recommend you place face coverings, masks, or face shields on babies and children under the age of 2 due to suffocation risks. In addition, there is no data showing that face shields for newborns or infants are protective.
If I get COVID-19, will I pass it on to my unborn baby?
- There is limited data available at this time regarding transmission of COVID to babies. While there have been a few reports of transmission between a mother and baby either immediately before or after birth (also called vertical transmission), ACOG reports that this is uncommon. The CDC reports that babies infected with COVID-19 generally have mild or no symptoms and recover well.
- The CDC recommends that individuals who are pregnant or who are contemplating getting pregnant continue to follow best practices (hand washing, mask wearing, social distancing) to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19.
Can my baby get COVID-19 in general?
- Studies have shown that newborn infants can contract COVID-19. Unfortunately, there has not been a definitive mode of transmission identified, but it can be attributed to the mother and/or to the environment.
- For mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19: available CDC data shows that there is low risk of newborns getting COVID-19 when they stay in a separate room compared to the mother’s room as long as safety measures to minimize the risk of transmission are used (mask wearing, hand washing, physical barriers, etc). If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, you should discuss the benefits and risks of rooming with your newborn with your healthcare provider in order to make an informed decision about what is best for you and your baby.
Can I still breastfeed if I am COVID-19 positive?
- It is not known if mothers with COVID-19 can spread the virus to their babies through their breast milk, but the limited data available suggests it is unlikely. Per ACOG and CDC recommendations, breastfeeding and pumping are still recommended even if you test positive. Talk to your healthcare provider regarding your decision about whether and how to start breastfeeding.
- If you are planning to breastfeed:
- Wear a mask during breastfeeding and wash your hands before and after.
- If you decide to pump, be sure to wash your hands before and after, wear a mask while pumping, and clean the pump regularly (instructions here).
For general breastfeeding tips, click here!
Should I still go to my prenatal appointments?
Should I still go to my prenatal appointments?
- Yes! Do not skip your prenatal or postpartum care appointments. It is important to check in with your healthcare provider as scheduled. If you are concerned about attending your appointment, talk to your healthcare provider.
- Some offices are offering telehealth appointments in addition to in-person appointments; if you are interested in participating in a telehealth visit and if you are eligible, you should ask your doctor’s office.
- Also, do not delay getting emergency care because of COVID-19.
- It is important to still get your recommended immunizations such as the vaccine against influenza, whooping cough (Tdap), and any others that are recommended by your provider. The influenza virus can be dangerous for you while you are pregnant, and both influenza and whooping cough are dangerous for your baby, and the symptoms can mimic those of COVID-19, so it is important to get both of those vaccines while you are pregnant! Both of those vaccines and many others are safe for you and the baby while you are pregnant.
What if I need to self-quarantine and have no way to obtain food or essential items?
Be sure to let your healthcare provider know! They will be a good resource for any questions you may have.
Eligible DC residents who have been directed to self-quarantine by a medical provider and have no way to obtain food or other essential items can call 1-888-349-8323 or visit gethelp.dc.gov for delivery of food or essential items.