The pandemic has left us all with a lot of questions. Here, the Ovia Health clinical team answers your questions about COVID-19 and prenatal care.
What about my prenatal visits? Should I still attend all of my visits?
The short answer is yes, particularly for visits that involve an ultrasound, fetal testing, or are in the third trimester. For other visits, the answer is maybe. When in doubt, call your healthcare provider and ask, and consider asking her/him if it would be reasonable to do your prenatal visit by video or telephone. It’s often required and always advisable to wear a mask in healthcare settings. Frequent hand washing or sanitizing is also important.
Sometimes healthcare providers designate one office location specifically for visits from patients exhibiting no signs or symptoms of COVID-19 in order to reduce the risk of exposure in the office. For providers offering more telehealth visits, you may benefit from buying a blood pressure cuff for use at home.
What’s happening with prenatal care in the U.S.?
Based on an Ovia survey of pregnant women in the United States, about 25% of prenatal care visits are being conducted differently – by telephone, video – or being canceled or rescheduled. Of course healthcare providers are still seeing patients who need to be seen. Care is available and you deserve excellent healthcare during and beyond your pregnancy.
Should pregnant people get the COVID-19 vaccine?
Yes, all people who are eligible to receive the vaccine at this time should be able to get it. Multiple, well-respected clinical organizations including the CDC and ACOG (the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) recommend that people who are trying to conceive, pregnant, and breastfeeding get vaccinated against COVID-19 .
There are some things to consider. The first clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson did not include participants who were known to be pregnant or breastfeeding. This is typical for pharmaceutical research. Recent studies, however, have included those who are pregnant and breastfeeding and show that there is no increased risk for this group and that vaccines do not negatively impact pregnancy outcomes.
Because the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain “live” virus, you cannot get COVID-19 from the vaccines. In general, vaccines that do not contain “live” viruses are safe during pregnancy and do not have increased risks for infertility, miscarriage, fetal anomalies, or stillbirth.
Despite the brief pause in availability of the Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine, both the CDC and FDA have approved its ongoing use in certain situations.They do state that pregnant people and women under 50 should be aware of the rare risk of dangerous blood clots associated with the J&J vaccine in the setting of low platelets This condition is called thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome or TTS. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines do not carry that same risk, and are preferable when possible. The more traditionally prepared Novavax vaccine is also an option. Side effects for the COVID-19 vaccines include pain at the site of injection, fever, fatigue, and chills. These typically go away after a couple of days.
Recent research suggests that vaccinating or boosting in the second and third trimesters offers an extra benefit – significantly reducing the risk of Covid infection in infants under 4-6 months. Another benefit to consider as infants cannot receive their own vaccine until 6 months of age.
What about a booster shot?
Everyone who is ages 5 and older, including those who are pregnant, breastfeeding, trying to get pregnant now, or might become pregnant in the future, should get a booster shot. In light of recent research showing increased rates of breakthrough infections in pregnant people, an Omicron specific booster shot may be even more important for pregnancy due to certain immune system changes and enhanced antibody protection for infants under 4 months
I have some more questions
Your midwife, doctor, or other healthcare professional is a great resource. You can also reach out to Mother to Baby experts at https://mothertobaby.org/ for more information on the vaccine in pregnancy.
Reviewed by the Ovia Health Clinical Team
Updated November 22, 2022