Dr Prabha Ramakrishna, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Sakra World Hospital Bengaluru airs away misconceptions and busts myths about vaccines on pregnant moms.
The journey to motherhood or pregnancy is undoubtedly the most eventful and delightful phase of a woman’s life. However, the global pandemic has put pregnant mothers at risk, making it a point of grave concern among would-be mums. The Center For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) has stated pregnant and post-partum women are at an increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19 virus, compared to those who aren’t pregnant, although the overall risk of severe illness from the virus is low at present. The virus puts the would-be mums at a greater risk of preterm birth and other adverse pregnancy outcomes compared to pregnant women without Covid-19.
Keeping these in mind, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India has approved vaccination of pregnant women against Covid-19 with the condition that a pregnant woman has the choice to take an informed decision of getting vaccinated or not during pregnancy. However, several myths around the harmful impact of Covid-19 vaccination on pregnant women have given birth to misconceptions among would-be mums that need to be busted.
The myths and the facts around Covid-19 vaccination among pregnant women
Myth: A woman planning for a baby must not get Covid-19 vaccination
Fact: As the vaccines aren’t made of live viruses, it is unlikely to risk the foetus if a pregnant mother takes her jab. While there’s a floating misconception that a woman planning for pregnancy should not plan one till two to three months following the vaccination course, waiting for that duration does give the women the time needed to develop antibodies.
Myth: Vaccination impacts the menstrual cycle, period flow and causes pain.
Fact: There is no evidence to establish an association of Covid-19 vaccine with menstruation, such as increase in bleeding or pain.
Myth: Breastfeeding moms should stay away from Covid-19 vaccines.
Fact: It is a false alarm. In fact, a vaccinated lactating mother can help to protect her new-born from the virus through breastfeeding. When lactating mothers get vaccinated, it produces an antibody response protecting the mothers from new Covid-19 infection. These antibodies can get transferred to the new-born while breastfeeding, safeguarding the infants with passive immunity from the virus.
Myth: Covid-19 vaccines are not safe for pregnant women
Fact: Available data suggest that the risk of complications in pregnancy is way higher in terms of contracting the virus during pregnancy than any possible risk associated with the vaccination.
Myth: Covid-19 vaccine passes through the placenta and can damage the baby
Fact: After a vaccine is administered in the muscle, the body recognises the vaccine and generates a response in the form of antibodies. These antibodies cross the placenta through the bloodstream or may reach the baby through breast milk while breastfeeding. Notably, these antibodies in the mother generated post-vaccination provide protection to both the mother and the baby during pregnancy as well as breastfeeding.
Myth: Covid-19 vaccination makes pregnant women all sick
Fact: No additional side effects of Covid-19 vaccines are reported among pregnant women compared to non-pregnant ones. Post-vaccination, a pregnant woman faces similar sickness as any other non-pregnant woman which should go away within a few days.
Pregnant women are more vulnerable to Covid-19 infection and hence, it is essential to clear off the misconceptions and bust the myths around the effects of vaccination on pregnant women. This will help the would-be mums or lactating mums to make informed decisions about vaccination and provide the best protection to the foetus and the newborns.