the COVID vaccine, fertility, pregnancy, postpartum – the latest you need to know
These questions and answers were taken from a webinar on April 28, 2021. This webinar was hosted by Jada Shapiro, founder of Boober, and featured three prominent doctors in the fertility, pregnancy and postpartum fields. These doctors were Dr. Said Daneshmand, a specialty board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology and subspecialty board certified in Reproductive Endocrinology, Dr. Payal Adhikari, a board-certified pediatrician and mother of two little ones, and Dr. Jaqueline Worth, an obstetrician for nearly twenty years, and has delivered thousands of babies. The below Q&As are drafted from the transcript of this event. This webinar was done in partnership with Monica and Andy.
Is the vaccine dangerous for those trying to conceive / going through fertility therapy?
There is no danger in getting the vaccine while trying to get pregnant! There are smaller studies being done that show no adverse effects of the vaccine thus far. There is no decrease in sperm or egg count, nor is there an impact on the new fetus! mRNA vaccines degrade quickly in the body, and it is safer to be vaccinated than to not. Dr. Daneshmand recommends not getting the vaccine during the IVF procedure, or within a week on either side of the embryo transfer. This is not due to effects from the vaccine, but because the embryo is sensitive to changes in temperature, and therefore a fever would effect it!
What about the effects on those that are pregnant? Is there a good time to get the vaccine during pregnancy?
A study from the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2021 done on 34,000 patients that were vaccinated while pregnant showed no adverse side effects! They were checked on things such as gestational diabetes, premature birth, as well as the health of the fetus once born. There was no evidence that showed an increase in any of these because of the vaccine. Pfizer is also currently studying women that are 24-28 weeks pregnant to confirm that the vaccine is safe. Currently, there is no evidence that suggests otherwise!
Dr. Worth suggests getting the vaccine anywhere from your second trimester onwards. While it is completely safe to get it in your first trimester, many people develop a fever as a side effect, and that could cause undue anxiety for the mother. Dr. Daneshmand adds that most women getting vaccinated while pregnant are in their second or third trimester, so we do not currently have any data for women in their first trimester. Getting COVID, however, is more dangerous given the data we currently have, as it increases the miscarriage rate. Therefore, all doctors agree that getting the vaccine is still safer than getting COVID!
Which vaccine is safest for me and my baby?
All of the vaccines are safe and efficient! Both Dr. Worth and Dr. Daneshmand agree that if you can get a vaccine, you should. However, if you have the ability to choose, it is safer to go with Moderna or Pfizer. While they stress that all three are safe, many of the studies done by the CDC are on the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines, so that is the data that they currently have. This does not make J&J any less safe! This is just the data that the scientific community currently has.
How does the vaccine affect my baby?
Again, there are currently no negative side effects on children being born to vaccinated mothers! Actually, blood panels done on some children of vaccinated mothers show that they have antibodies in the first three months after birth. Doctors Daneshmand, Worth and Payal all stress that we do not have long term data on this, so we dont know how long the antibodies will last, but it cant be bad! Dr. Payal also mentions that we underestimate our risk for getting COVID, even if we dont leave our houses. If these vaccines were not safe, the CDC would not approve them for use!
What about breastfeeding?
The vaccine is safe for breastfeeding women! A study done on breastfeeding mothers who were vaccinated showed that the breast milk contained high antibodies 2 weeks after the first vaccine dose and maintained that level for 3-6 weeks after vaccination. While we don’t know what this means currently, it does not mean that breastfeeding is a no! Dr. Payal states that its a good way to try to get your children antibodies, as they cannot currently get vaccinated. Storing milk, she says, will still be safe, and while it might lose some protection will not hurt your child in any way.
For children that have been weaned off breastfeeding, it is not worth it to give them your breast milk for the antibodies! While it will not harm them, babies and toddlers have different GI tracts, and therefore the milk will be digested differently. It is much more effective to give it to the newborn!
My family is vaccinated. Can they come see my newborn?
There is nothing that is no risk. Of course, there is low risk and high risk situations. Dr. Payal mentions that if a baby under 2 months old gets a fever, they go to the ER for a full workup to make sure nothing is wrong with them. However, this does not mean that your family cannot come visit your newborn! Dr. Payal states that if your family member is vaccinated and not ill, it is fairly low risk to have them come see your child. She mentions that keeping things outdoors is safer, and if you are nervous, have them wear a mask! After the two month mark, when your child has received their vaccines, it becomes much safer for family to visit, and you can do so!
Can you get COVID from the vaccine?
Nope! None of the vaccines contain a live virus, meaning that you cannot get the virus from the vaccine. The side effects are simply your body mounting its immune response against the virus so that it can protect you should you come in contact with COVID. Whether its mRNA (Moderna and Pfizer) or adenovirus (J&J), pregnant and postpartum mothers are safe to get the vaccine, and many have reported a sense of relief and safety after getting the vaccine.