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Vaccinations and Pregnancy: Emma’s Story

Since the start of the vaccination campaign you might have heard people express concerns around the COVID-19 vaccine when it comes to pregnancy and fertility. We have met women wary of getting the vaccine, whether during pregnancy or while breastfeeding, and people who were worried about how the vaccine might affect their chances of having children now or later in life.

We also spoke to others who took the vaccine during pregnancy, and who wanted to share their experiences. One such person was Emma, who received her first dose in the third trimester of her pregnancy with Erin, born in July.

Emma

“Initially I thought I’d wait until Erin was born to have the vaccine,” Emma says. “However I’m a teacher and as cases started rising in the summer I changed my mind and booked one for May. At this time I was about 32 weeks pregnant and the advice had recently changed to say pregnant women could get vaccinated if they wanted to.

All my other pregnant friends chose to hold off too, which made me a little nervous about my decision, but overall I had faith in the doctors and their advice. I reasoned that there were no known complications of receiving the Covid vaccine in pregnancy, but hard evidence that catching Covid could potentially be very harmful to both myself and my unborn baby.”

As the NHS makes clear in their advice on the subject, COVID-19 vaccines have been widely used by pregnant women around the world and no safety concerns have been identified. This is echoed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, who also explain that vaccination is the best way to protect against the known risks of COVID-19 in pregnancy.

Catching the virus when pregnant can be extremely serious. Research has shown that severe illness and hospital admission may even be more common in pregnant women than women of the same age who are not pregnant, while women with COVID-19 are more likely to have their babies early.

“The staff at the vaccine clinic were really helpful,” Emma continues, “they spent a lot of time discussing my choice, the possible side effects and the research supporting the safety of the vaccine for pregnant women and babies. The fact that I had already had the flu and whooping cough vaccine also made me confident that it was safe to do so in pregnancy.

I felt fine after having the vaccine with no side effects. My healthy baby was born with a very straightforward birth about 8 weeks later. My second vaccine was booked for when my baby was 2 weeks old and again this was fine with no side effects. I am breastfeeding my baby with no complications.”

For women who have already given birth and are breastfeeding, there is also no reason to delay getting vaccinated, whether a first or second dose, or the booster. You cannot catch COVID-19 from the vaccine and you cannot pass it to your baby through your breast milk. And again, as Emma experienced, being vaccinated is the best protection against serious illness should you catch COVID-19.

“When Erin was 3 months old everyone in our household (including Erin) caught Covid. Thankfully our symptoms were very mild which I put down to being vaccinated. I am very happy with my choice to get vaccinated when pregnant and hope that anyone else who is uncertain whether to go ahead or not is reassured by our experience.”

When it comes to fertility, the medical evidence is also clear – there is no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility, and there’s no need to avoid getting pregnant after being vaccinated. You can find out more information about COVID-19 vaccinations, including how to book your appointment, here.

If you would like to read more on this subject, you can find guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations and pregnancy from nhs.uk, gov.uk and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.