Pregnancy: How can I protect my baby and myself from a coronavirus infection?
Pregnant women also need to protect themselves and their newborn child from the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Here you can find out what you need to pay attention to during pregnancy and the latest findings on this subject.
Pregnant women generally reflect a great deal on their own health and that of their growing baby. Since the coronavirus pandemic has changed everyday life, they now have additional concerns. Even though children most often have a mild version of COVID-19, there are also cases in which the progression is severe. Especially pregnant women with pre-existing conditions or pre-existing risk factors, such as obesity, chronic high blood pressure, or pre-existing diabetes, are at a higher risk of a severe COVID-19 progression, which also increases with age. This is why, to protect against coronavirus, there are currently also special recommendations for pregnant women at hospitals and in the home.
Can a newborn baby become infected with COVID-19?
Owing to insufficient data, it is not yet possible to make conclusive statements on the effect an infection has on the unborn child. Generally, a high fever during the first trimester of the pregnancy increases the risk of complications and deformities. The latest study findings prove that pregnant women are at an increased risk of a severe progression, as well as more frequent premature births and a higher rate of newborns who require treatment in neonatal intensive care units. However, until now there have been few reports of stillbirths or deaths among newborn babies. Nevertheless, individual studies show a significantly higher risk of stillbirth if the mother is severely ill with COVID-19.
Pregnant women should protect themselves as far as possible from coronavirus
This all goes to show that pregnant women should protect themselves as best they can from an infection. So be sure to follow the rules introduced for the coronavirus pandemic as strictly as possible. This includes wearing a face mask in everyday life, avoiding close contact, coughing and sneezing into the crook of your arm or a paper handkerchief, and washing your hands thoroughly. You should also make sure to air rooms sufficiently and on a regular basis. If you suspect you might be infected with coronavirus, consult your doctor by phone, or the on-duty medical unit outside of opening hours by calling the nationwide information hotline 0800 0000837 (available in English), for your next steps.
Should I get vaccinated against COVID-19 if I am pregnant?
Owing to a lack of data, the Standing Committee on Vaccination (STIKO) has not yet issued a general vaccination recommendation for pregnant and breastfeeding women. However, this does not mean that the STIKO fears that the vaccination poses a specific danger to pregnant women; it simply means that, at this point in time, the STIKO does not yet consider itself in a position to properly assess the situation. The German Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gynäkologie und Geburtshilfe) is in favour of prioritizing the vaccination of pregnant and breastfeeding women against COVID-19, preferably with mRNA-based vaccines, as long as health risks have been ruled out. Especially in the case of pregnant women with pre-existing conditions and an increased risk of a severe progression of the COVID-19 disease, vaccination with a coronavirus vaccine might be useful after weighing up the benefits and the risks. You can find more information on the coronavirus vaccine for pregnant and breastfeeding women here.
Moreover, it is recommended that persons who are in close contact with pregnant women also get vaccinated against COVID-19, so as to protect not only themselves but also the pregnant woman and the baby against a coronavirus infection.
Should I, as a breastfeeding mother, vaccinate myself against COVID-19?
Breastfeeding mothers can get vaccinated against coronavirus too. In a joint position paper, specialist associations advocate offering mRNA vaccines to breastfeeding mothers. There is no need for a breastfeeding pause after vaccination with an mRNA vaccine. Vaccination can provide nest immunity through antibodies in breast milk. The STIKO also references the joint position paper by the specialists in its recommendation on coronavirus vaccination. The STIKO considers it very unlikely that vaccinating a breastfeeding mother during the breastfeeding period poses a danger to the infant. Speak with your gynaecologist or your family doctor and, together with them, weigh up the risks and benefits of a potential vaccination.