You can get a COVID-19 vaccine if you are pregnant or think you might be, breastfeeding or trying for a baby or might get pregnant in the future.
Here are the facts:
There's no evidence the COVID-19 vaccines have any effect on your chances of becoming pregnant
There's no need to avoid getting pregnant after being vaccinated
You cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccines and cannot pass it to your baby through your breast milk
It is better for you, and your baby, to have the vaccine rather than the COVID infection - watch the video below to find out how COVID-19 affects pregnant women
If you are pregnant and have a question about the COVID-19 vaccine, you can send a message, image, video or voice note to Full Fact and Pregnant and Screwed on 07521 770995 to get your questions answered within 24 hours.
How COVID-19 affects pregnant women
Misinformation about fertility and the COVID-19 vaccine
Watch this short video of Emma McCartney, Antenal Clinic Manager at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, who talks about the misinformation around fertility and the COVID-19 vaccine.
You can also download a helpful poster developed by obstetricians at The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust which offers some reassurance around the vaccines.
Women who remain concerned can speak to a GP, midwife, and vaccinators will also be able to discuss any issues with you when you attend your vaccine appointment.
A pregnant midwife is encouraging all expectant mums across the Black Country and West Birmingham to have the COVID-19 vaccination.
Eleanor is currently 30 weeks pregnant with her second child and has been fully vaccinated during her pregnancy. The community midwife, who works in the Black Country, is now urging all pregnant women to have the vaccine to protect themselves and their unborn babies.
Eleanor said: “As a community midwife, I speak to pregnant women every day and know that many have concerns about having the jab. When the COVID-19 vaccines first started rolling out, it was unclear whether they were suitable for pregnant women and there were lots of mixed messages being shared, which caused a lot of confusion. However, the vaccines have proven to be completely safe and effective for pregnant women.
“I had my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine back in March when I was 13 weeks pregnant. I did thorough research into the pros and cons of having the vaccine, and at the time lots of encouraging data was coming through from the US. Working within the community and mixing with different people every day, I decided to go ahead and get the vaccine to make sure me and my unborn baby had the best protection against COVID-19.
“Aside from a slightly sore arm and feeling a bit tired for a day or two, I had no serious side effects. I had my second dose in June at 25 weeks pregnant and now I’m fully vaccinated I feel so much safer, especially as restrictions have lifted and people are starting to mix more.
“I understand that it’s not an easy decision to make, and everyone has to do what is right for them, but for me, the risk of not having the vaccine was far greater. Studies have shown that severe illness due to this virus is more likely in later pregnancy, and those who do get symptomatic COVID-19 are two to three times more likely to give birth to their baby prematurely.
“I’m really lucky that I don’t have any underlying health conditions, but those who do are at even higher risk of suffering complications from COVID-19 during pregnancy.
“Even without COVID-19 thrown into the mix, being pregnant can feel scary and daunting at times, which is completely normal. I wanted to do what I felt was best for my baby, and for me that was to get the COVID-19 vaccination as soon as I could, just as I did with both the flu and whooping cough vaccines.
“I would encourage any pregnant woman to have the COVID-19 vaccine, but please remember you don’t have to make this decision alone. Speak to your midwife, obstetrician or GP and they can provide you with more guidance based on your personal situation.
“I’m now in my third trimester and can’t wait for our baby to arrive in September.”
Dr Francina Schreuder, Consultant Obstetrician for Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said: “There has been a lot of misinformation online regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and pregnancy and this has left many women feeling concerned.
“The Royal College of Midwives and The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists jointly state there is no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccines will affect fertility or harm the baby. Such claims are speculative and not supported by any data.
“The vaccine really is the best form of protection against the virus and the risks it presents to both mother and baby in pregnancy. It is also our best chance of getting back to normality, so please do not delay in booking your appointment.”
Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are the preferred vaccines for pregnant women of any age who are coming forward for their first dose. Anyone who has already received their first dose and is offered their second one whilst pregnant, should have a second dose with the same vaccine unless they receive alternative advice from a health professional.
Sally Roberts, Chief Nursing Officer for BCWB CCG, said: “COVID-19 vaccines offer pregnant women the best protection against the virus, which can be serious in later pregnancy for some women.
“We strongly urge all pregnant women to get the vaccine when it is offered to them, whether it’s their first or second dose, to reduce the risk not just to themselves, but also their babies.
“If you’ve already been offered a jab but haven’t taken it up yet it’s not too late, there’s still a dose with your name on it.”
A mother with COVID-19 who recently gave birth has strongly encouraged others to have the vaccine.
A mother with COVID-19 who recently gave birth has strongly encouraged others to have the vaccine after she became so ill that her relatives were advised to prepare for her end of life care.
Shem McLeod, who turns 44 next week, gave birth prematurely on July 25 at 33 weeks. She has not had her COVID-19 vaccine and has been so poorly she has still not seen her baby son, apart from video calls. Now after five weeks in Walsall Manor Hospital and having been in a coma, she is having to learn to walk again.
Shem, who has three other sons aged 20, 11 and two, had a Caesarean at City Hospital in Birmingham after becoming ill before being transferred to Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust because of demand for beds.
“I was one of those who thought ‘it won’t happen to me’,” said Shem, who had no underlying health conditions. “I think my risk increased because I was pregnant. But I’m definitely going to have the vaccine as soon as I can and I would strongly encourage others to do the same. This experience has changed me – I want to promote the vaccine because it’s better to have the jab than be in the situation I’ve been in.
“My friends and family were told the next stage for me would be end of life care and they said ‘Are you serious?’ My heart, kidney and lungs were fighting against each other which is why they had to put me into a coma. I feel very grateful for the doctors and nurses to enable me to be here and to my family and friends for their support.”
Shem is a frontline key worker for a local authority in the Birmingham area, where she lives. Unwell with a persistent cough, she tested positive for Covid in the maternity unit. On returning home, her partner, a chef, was so worried about her condition he called for an ambulance and she was admitted to City Hospital on July 24, giving birth a day later.
“I was coughing for some time and I couldn’t shift it,” recalled Shem. “It got to a point where I was lying on the floor struggling to breathe. My last real memory was getting into the ambulance.”
At City Hospital, Shem underwent a Caesarean before being placed in an induced coma, which she says was crucial to her and her baby’s survival.
“They performed a C-section because of the danger and to save both our lives,” she added. “They stabilised me and put me into a coma and I was then transferred to Walsall.”
Shem is hoping to be able to see her baby or be allowed home to be reunited with her family. But she doesn’t know when she’s going to be well enough as she is having to learn to walk again.
“I miss all my children but it’s been especially hard with the two-year-old because he doesn’t understand why his mum isn’t there,” said Shem. “We’ve had video calls but when I was in critical care I had wires and tubes coming out of me so it wasn’t until a couple of days ago when those things were removed that he recognised me. I haven’t been able to be with my baby either – I was sedated before so I had no awareness of him, then he was taken to neonatal.
“I’m not sure when I’ll be able to go home because I wouldn’t be able to look after my children. I’ve been told it could be months before I regain my physical strength, but I’m eager to meet my new baby.”
Just two weeks before giving birth, Shem was dancing to her favourite reggae, R ‘n’ B and soul music at her cousin’s party but her legs are currently in splints for four hours at a time because her feet have ‘dropped’ after so long in bed and she can only walk a couple of steps.
“Occupational therapists have been a great help in supporting me to stand because after five weeks in bed, I’ve lost the ability to walk,” she said. “It could be months before I get back to normal.”
Shem is now back at City Hospital for her ongoing care and her baby son is at home.
*Credit to Walsall Healthcare Trust for the story.
Does the vaccine affect fertility in men?
Below is a collection of resources for women of childbearing age or those that are pregnant or breast feeding:
The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have produced a webpage with lots of useful information for healthcare professionals and pregnant women about COVID-19 vaccination several useful resources: www.rcog.org.uk/covid-vaccine
- What do the experts in New Cross Hospital’s maternity department think?
- Gov.uk: Information leaflet for all women of childbearing age, those currently pregnant or breastfeeding on COVID-19 vaccination
- NHS.uk also provide guidance: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/