This is why I got vaccinated during my pregnancy

This is why I got vaccinated during my pregnancy @sarahboesveld

12/1/2021 7:40:00 PM

This is why I got vaccinated during my pregnancy sarahboesveld

The alternative—gambling that you won’t catch COVID for those nine months—just seems much more terrifying to me.

It’s hard not to obsess over even the smallest risks, or feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of questions and anxieties. We also routinely face judgment from perfect strangers policing our behaviour and commenting on our choices, even if it’s just one cup of coffee a day.

But if you’re skipping or delaying vaccination during pregnancy because you’re worried about your unborn baby’s development, you should also consider the risks of getting a COVID infection in pregnancy—in addition to the heightened risk of maternal death, it can cause you to go into labour too early. And l

ongitudinal researchpreterm birthto poorer health and social outcomes, including heart and lung issues, and greater risk of ADHD.This is one of the reasons why I was not among the vaccine-hesitant, even after learning I was expecting. The minute I could snag an appointment for my second shot, I leapt at the chance. I didn’t just want it because I craved hugs with vaxxed friends and family and a worry-free meal on a patio. I did it because I knew it was the single best thing I could do to protect myself and my baby. We now have reassuringly solid data to prove that the vaccine does not penetrate beyond the placenta, but the good stuff—like the COVID-19

protective antibodiesyour body makes after vaccination—does get passed on to the fetus, and may protect your vulnerable newborn from infection.The alternative—gambling that you won’t catch COVID for those nine months—just seemed much more terrifying to me.

After I read news stories about ICUs becoming packed with unvaccinated pregnant patients in particular, I couldn’t shake the horrific images from my mind. These extremely sick patients are hooked up to ventilators or ECMO life-support machines, and have to lie prone on their pregnant bellies (cushioned by lots of pillows). They often need to deliver their babies by C-section, while in a medically-induced coma, even if the babies are too young to survive outside the womb.

I think about it this way: Delaying a vaccine during my pregnancy does me—or my unborn baby—absolutely no good if neither of us survive that pregnancy. It would also leave my toddler son without a mom.It’s true that this horrifying scenario isn’t, typically, what a pre-Delta COVID infection looked like for a healthy woman in her thirties. And it isn’t what COVID looked like back in January, when health agencies first started issuing vaccine recommendations for pregnant people like me. But the virus has changed since then—and so has my own personal risk calculation.

As vaccines became more widely available and their impacts studied, the conversation about safety for pregnant people has “evolved,” says Tali Bogler, the chair of family medicine obstetrics at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and co-founder of the, a popular social media resource for anyone expecting during COVID.

The ever-changing messaging andlack of evidence earlier in the vaccine rollout was extremely frustrating to women’s health advocates like Bogler, who worried about the “downstream impacts” of the way the safety guidelines were handled.“If [pregnant people are] systematically excluded [from trials], we lack safety data from the get-go,” she says. “Then there’s unequal access to vaccines and conflicting messages from Health Canada and other health agencies about whether pregnant individuals are eligible.” Sometimes, initial messaging sticks, she adds, even if it isn’t, ultimately, the most accurate information.

Bogler says the number one question she gets from her pregnant patients is an understandable one: “What about the lack of long-term data?”

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