Keeping Herself and Her Baby Healthy: Ashley’s Vaccine Story
Pregnancy is an exciting experience for many. But during a global pandemic, the most exciting time in a person’s life can also become the most stressful.
Ashley is a Community Health Worker and college graduate with a biology degree. She has always been interested in medicine and plans on going to medical school in the future. Ashley is also a new mother.
She remembers getting her first dose of the vaccine in December 2020 – just a few weeks before she found out she was pregnant. Many pregnant individuals chose not to get the vaccine. But Ashley was sure she had made the right choice and was grateful she got her first dose when she did.
“I was mostly just concerned about getting COVID while pregnant,” Ashley says. Because of her clinical and academic experience, she understood the impact of illness on pregnancy. “Pregnancy lowers your immune system, and you're at greater risk for any illness. Infection with certain viruses can cause harm to a fetus, and we knew virtually nothing about the long-term effects of COVID during pregnancy at that time.”
Knowing this, Ashley decided to get her second dose three weeks later and her booster in September 2021. By that time, the CDC had recommended the vaccine for pregnant people. Currently, the CDC encourages vaccines for all people older than 6 months.
Ashley was especially concerned about COVID because of the limited information public health leaders had about the effects of COVID at the time. “Personally, I was really comfortable with the vaccine because I have a strong enough background in science and understood the mechanism of the vaccine.”
Staying Healthy Through a Pandemic Pregnancy
In February 2022, it was reported that pregnant people are 40% more likely to develop serious complications or die from COVID infection. Additionally, pregnant people who contract COVID are more likely to deliver their baby preterm or have other pregnancy-related complications. Early delivery can lead to long-term negative outcomes for the baby, including breathing problems, difficulties swallowing, increased risk of infection, and more.
The great news is that COVID vaccines are safe and effective for all people over 6 months old, including pregnant, recently pregnant, and breastfeeding people. Even before the pandemic, pregnant people and their newborn babies were expected to get multiple vaccines to prevent severe disease and even death. The COVID vaccine is now an additional piece of the vaccine schedule.
There are other ways for pregnant people and recently pregnant people to keep themselves and their babies healthy. Below are just a few strategies health experts recommend:
Exercise regularly. Simple, moderate exercises like walking and Pilates are recommended for pregnant people. Exercising regularly keeping you healthy and strong, which provides a healthier environment for your baby.
Eat a balanced diet. Pregnant people need about 300 extra calories a day for their growing baby, and should choose healthier foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Get all recommended vaccines. Pregnant people should get the COVID-19 vaccine, along with vaccines for whooping cough.
Limit caffeine consumption.
Attend all OB/GYN appointments. Your OB/GYN will provide a regular appointment schedule for you depending on your medical conditions and needs.
Create a post-delivery care plan. How will you get home after the baby is delivered? Who will help at home with chores, cooking, etc., after the baby is delivered? By answering these questions, you’ll have a better plan for what comes next – enjoying time with your newborn!
Find a COVID vaccine near you, and get vaccinated today! Your health, your baby.