COVID-19 risks are higher if you're pregnant

Published March 7, 2022

OB-GYN Jean Amoura, MD

By OB-GYN Jean Amoura, MD
Published

picture of a pregnant woman in a hospital bed

We know that pregnant people are at increased risk for severe COVID-19, compared to people who are not pregnant.

People with COVID-19 during pregnancy are more likely to experience:

  • Preterm birth (delivering the baby earlier than 37 weeks)
  • ICU admission and mechanical ventilation
  • Maternal complications (acute respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis and death)
  • Preeclampsia (a serious blood pressure disorder)

COVID-19 infection may also cause fetal inflammation during pregnancy. Even if the virus doesn't infect the placenta, infants born to COVID-19 positive mothers have an inflammatory response.

Stillbirths were four times as likely for women with recent COVID-19 infection (birth within 28 days of diagnosis), compared to women without COVID-19 infection.

  • Stillbirths for women with no confirmed COVID-19 infection: 5.6 per 1,000 births
  • Stillbirths for women with recent COVID-19 infection: 22.6 per 1,000 births

Blood type affects COVID-19 risk

Data suggests your blood type and your baby's sex can also affect COVID-19 severity during pregnancy. Pregnant patients with type A+ blood and carrying a male fetus are at significantly higher risk for hospitalization due to COVID-19 complications. We are seeing this trend at Nebraska Medicine.

Seek medical care immediately if you're pregnant and experience any of these symptoms:

  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Headache that won't go away

Are COVID-19 vaccines safe during pregnancy? Yes

Unvaccinated women made up 98% of ICU admissions among COVID-19 cases in pregnant women. Only one out of 100 infected fully vaccinated pregnant women needed ICU admission. An additional pregnant woman who was partially vaccinated (one dose of mRNA vaccine) needed ICU admission.

The best way to prevent severe COVID-19 illness and protect your baby is to get vaccinated. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe for pregnant people:

I strongly encourage people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to get pregnant to discuss vaccination and boosters with their doctor.