If you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, you may be concerned about how infection with the coronavirus (also called COVID-19) may affect your pregnancy.
Can COVID-19 cause health problems during pregnancy?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while the overall risk of severe illness from COVID-19 is low during pregnancy, pregnant people are at an increased risk for severe illness compared to non-pregnant people.
Severe illness includes illness that results in intensive care admission, mechanical ventilation or death. Pregnant people with COVID-19 may also be at increased risk for other poor outcomes, including preterm birth. This is when you give birth earlier than 37 weeks.
Conditions that may increase your risk of severe illness from COVID-19 during pregnancy include:
- Having certain health conditions
- Your age
- Conditions where you live, work, learn, play and worship
For example, if you work in a setting where you can’t keep your distance from sick people, you may be at increased risk of being infected with COVID-19 and having severe illness. Pregnant health care providers are more likely to get COVID-19 than others who don’t work with sick people. Health and social inequities put pregnant people from some racial and ethnic minority groups at increased risk of getting sick from COVID-19 as well.
I think I have COVID-19. What should I do?
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, call your health care provider. Tell your provider that you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. They can advise you on COVID testing.
If I’m pregnant or breastfeeding is it safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
You should discuss the best option for you with your OB/GYN. This will be based on your risk for exposure to the virus and how sick you might get if you do get the virus. The CDC, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) all agree that the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines should be offered to all pregnant and breastfeeding individuals who are eligible for vaccination.
There is no data to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccines cause miscarriage during pregnancy. National and international experts, including the World Health Organization, suggest that any vaccine that makes its way into breast milk will be quickly inactivated when the milk is digested. At this time, there is no data regarding the safety of these new vaccines on breastfed infants. If you’re breastfeeding, some of your COVID-19 antibodies that you make to develop immunity can naturally pass to your baby.
Both the virus and the COVID-19 vaccines are new. There is very little data on the safety of these vaccines in pregnancy. Pregnant people were not included in the clinical trials for the vaccines. However, like many new medications and vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccines were studied in pregnant animals. These studies did not show any complications related to the baby’s development after vaccination.
I’m planning for pregnancy in the near future. Should I get vaccinated now or wait?
The COVID-19 vaccines are not believed to affect your future fertility. Getting vaccinated before you get pregnant may prevent COVID-19 during pregnancy. It can also avoid the need for vaccination during pregnancy. Eighteen people who were in the COVID-19 vaccination studies did become pregnant after vaccination. So far, those pregnancies are ongoing. We hope to learn more about their pregnancies soon.
How can pregnant people protect themselves from COVID-19?
If you’re pregnant, these tips can help you protect yourself from infection:
- Practice physical distancing and wear a mask.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often using soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially if you’ve been in a public place or after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water aren’t available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Help prevent the spread of infection at home.
- Take advantage of virtual care visits with health care providers, if available.
How can I get my COVID-19 vaccine at Mass General Brigham?
Mass General Brigham is offering limited appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine to patients who are eligible under the current phase of the state’s vaccine distribution plan. Due to continued vaccine supply constraints, Massachusetts has been working to continue to streamline COVID-19 vaccine distribution and to align hospital and health system needs to support the state’s rollout.
Mass General Brigham contacts eligible patients through the patient portal known as Patient Gateway, email, or text message to schedule vaccine appointments. All vaccine appointments are scheduled through a central scheduling center. Please do not contact your doctor’s office about vaccine appointments.
Based on supply, Mass General Brigham invites eligible patients to schedule appointments using a fair, random process. It may take time before you receive your invitation and are able to schedule your appointment. Please be patient. The team is working closely with state officials to ensure that Mass General Brigham receives a steady supply of vaccine to schedule appointments every week.
Get the latest COVID-19 vaccine distribution information.
Additional Vaccine FAQs
Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine.