Should You Get the COVID-19 Vaccine If You’re Pregnant?

On December 16, 2020, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) released a statement for people who are pregnant or who are planning to get pregnant regarding the COVID-19 vaccine. This has significant meaning for gestational surrogates and intended parents, who were previously in a wait-and-see holding pattern.

The statement says that pregnant people, and anyone planning to get pregnant, cango ahead and get vaccinated — as long as your health provider gives you the OK to do so.

Ultimately, you’re free to choose whether or not you get vaccinated. It’s a discussion that intended parents and gestational surrogates should have, along with their American Surrogacy specialist.

If you’re (understandably) nervous about COVID or about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, this guide will help gestational surrogates and intended parents to make a decision on what’s best for them, and for the baby. Please note: You should still talk to your doctor first! They can offer you medical advice based on your individual situation.

COVID-19 Vaccine Basics

Here’s a brief introductory lesson on the COVID-19 vaccine, and some considerations for surrogates and intended parents:

  • As you probably know, pregnant women are at a greater risk for becoming seriously sick as a result of COVID-19.
  • Two different pharmaceutical companies, Moderna and Pfizer, have produced COVID-19 vaccines — both are about 95% effective. You probably won’t be able to choose which one you receive.
  • More vaccines are on the way, and they will also probably be safe for pregnant women.
  • The vaccine requires two doses, administered 21-28 days apart, depending on which vaccine you receive.
  • You will need to receive both doses of the vaccine in order for it to be effective.
  • The first shot is a primer and then the second is a booster shot.
  • The vaccine does not contain the live virus itself, and cannot give you COVID-19.
  • You will need to continue wearing your mask, practicing good hand-washing and hygiene habits and social distancing even after you’ve received both doses of the vaccine.
  • Common side effects include injection site pain, fatigue, headache, muscle and join pain. A handful of people have experienced fevers or allergic reactions. You may want to consider taking a day off to rest up after receiving the booster dose — some recipients say they feel a bit tired and achy for a day or two.
  • Vaccine side effects are a sign that your immune system is working as it should, not a sign that a vaccine isn’t working or that something is wrong. However, monitor how you feel after receiving the vaccine, and call your doctor if you’re worried.
  • If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to a vaccine in the past, you should check with your doctor before getting the COVID vaccine.
  • Pregnant people were not included in the testing groups for the vaccine, which was why health organizations were initially wary to conclusively state that the vaccine was safe for pregnant women. However, so far there have been no harmful effects for pregnant women or for fetuses, and these organizations have concluded that the likely benefits outweigh the unlikely risks. Because the vaccine does not include the live virus, experts have little reason to believe that the vaccine would be harmful to pregnant women or to unborn babies. But, we understand the lack of data may be too great a worry for you.
  • There are still some unknowns, like how long the vaccine protects you, whether it can protect you against an asymptomatic infection, or if you can transmit the virus if you do become infected and are asymptomatic.

Ultimately, when weighing the potential pros and cons, experts say that it’s fine to get the vaccine when it’s available to you. That being said, you should always consult with your doctor before getting vaccinated, especially if you are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant as a gestational surrogate!

Gestational surrogates and intended parents should also talk about the choice to get vaccinated with their American Surrogacy specialist. It’s important for you all to be on the same page.

What the ASRM Says About Pregnancy and the Vaccine

In the statement released December 16 of 2020, the American Society for Reproductive had this to say to anyone who is pregnant (or plans to become pregnant):

  • “The Task Force does not recommend withholding the vaccine from patients who are planning to conceive, who are currently pregnant, or who are lactating. These recommendations are in line with those of the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) of the U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM).”

What that means for you: The general consensus among professionals who are responsible for the health of pregnant women and fetuses is that the vaccine can be administered to surrogates.

  • “Patients undergoing fertility treatment and pregnant patients should be encouraged to receive vaccination based on eligibility criteria. Since the vaccine is not a live virus, there is no reason to delay pregnancy attempts because of vaccination administration or to defer treatment until the second dose has been administered.”

What that means for you: Getting vaccinated is still likely safe for surrogates who are currently undergoing, or are planning to undergo fertility treatments, IVF, embryo transfers and pregnancy. It’s also probably safe for intended parents planning to harvest their gametes for the surrogacy journey. Wherever you’re at in your surrogacy journey, that journey will not be affected or delayed if you choose to receive a COVID vaccine.

  • “Recent studies have suggested that pregnancy is a risk factor for severe COVID-19 disease. Furthermore, many women who are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy have additional risk factors such as obesity, hypertension or diabetes which may further increase the chance of severe disease from COVID-19 infection. These considerations should be included in decisions regarding vaccination.”

What that means for you: As you probably know, pregnant women have a higher risk of experiencing severe COVID-19 symptoms. This will be a factor in the conversation with your doctor about getting vaccinated.

  • “Because COVID-19 mRNA vaccines are not composed of live virus, they are not thought to cause an increased risk of infertility, first or second trimester loss, stillbirth, or congenital anomalies. It should be noted that pregnant and lactating women were excluded from the initial phase III trials of these two vaccines, so specific safety data in these populations are not yet available and further studies are planned. However, the mechanism of action of mRNA vaccines and existing safety data provide reassurance regarding the safety of COVID-19 mRNA vaccines during pregnancy. The FDA EUA letter permits the vaccination of pregnant and breastfeeding individuals with a requirement that the company engage in post-authorization observational studies in pregnancy.”

What that means for you: Even though pregnant women weren’t included in the original trials of the vaccine, this type of vaccine has been extensively studied and is generally considered safe for pregnant women and for the pregnancy itself. However, we understand the lack of data may give you pause.

  • “While COVID-19 vaccination can cause fever in some patients (up to 16% of those vaccinated and mostly after the second dose), this risk should not be a concern when deciding whether to vaccinate a pregnant individual or a patient desiring pregnancy. While fever in pregnancy (particularly the 1st trimester) has been associated with an increased risk of neural tube defects, a recent study demonstrated the association no longer remained significant if the patient is taking >400 mcg of folic acid daily. Another large Danish cohort study did not demonstrate any increased risk of congenital anomalies of those who reported fever in the first trimester. Additionally, the most common symptom of COVID-19 infection itself is fever (83-99% of affected patients). Patients who experience fever following vaccination should take an antipyretic medication, like acetaminophen.”

What that means for you: Even if a gestational surrogate experiences vaccine side effects like a fever, it shouldn’t harm the surrogate or the pregnancy, especially if you’re taking your recommended folic acid.

  • “Patients who conceive in the window between the first and second dose of the vaccine should be offered the second dose of the vaccine at the appropriate interval.”

What that means for you: It’s OK if you become pregnant in between your first and second dose. Go ahead and get your second vaccine dose as scheduled.

  • “Physicians should promote vaccination to patients, their communities, and to the public. Preliminary data suggests that those populations at greatest risk of severe disease from COVID-19 may also be the most hesitant to be vaccinated, and specific efforts to increase vaccine uptake in these communities should be undertaken.”

What that means for you: We know you’re worried about the health and safety of this pregnancy, as well as your own safety. But, after checking in with your doctor, you’re free to schedule your COVID vaccine as soon as it’s available to you. The benefits may outweigh the risks.

What American Surrogacy Recommends

We know that if you’re a gestational surrogate or an intended parent, or if you’re thinking about starting your surrogacy journey as a surrogate or parent, you’re probably worried about how COVID-19 affects your surrogacy journey. During a surrogacy journey, the gestational surrogate and intended parents worry about everything that goes into the surrogate’s body — everyone’s priority is the health and safety of the surrogate and baby.

With that top priority in mind, and with the recommendations of trusted health organizations, American Surrogacy joins in recommending that gestational surrogates can receive the COVID-19 vaccine, as long as the surrogate, the intended parents and the surrogate’s doctor are all comfortable with this. However, a COVID-19 vaccine is not currently required for our surrogates — the decision to receive the vaccine is still at the discretion of the surrogate, the intended parents and the surrogate’s doctor.

Wherever you’re currently at in your surrogacy journey, we suggest speaking to your doctor about getting vaccinated. Ask your doctor when a COVID-19 vaccine might be available to you, and ask if they think you might have any health conditions or risk factors that would make the vaccine inadvisable in your situation.

As long as your doctor and your surrogacy partners agree with this choice, you’re free to get the vaccine when it’s available to you. But, when in doubt, consult your American Surrogacy specialist!

A Year in Review: The Biggest Surrogacy News from 2020

Surrogacy is an ever-changing field. Each year, legislation is changed, laws are fine-tuned and most important, families are made. However, more than ever, this year shook the surrogacy world. 

As all of us navigated the COVID-19 crisis, we watched as every aspect of our lives was impacted, including surrogacy. Here are some of the biggest developments that 2020 brought to the world of surrogacy:

IVF Procedures Were Temporarily Halted

This spring, fertility treatments and IVF procedures were temporarily suspended in response to the worsening outbreak of COVID-19. This was devastating news to the intended parents and surrogates who were about to undertake this next step in their journey.

Since then, fertility clinics have reopened with additional health and safety measures. Intended parents and surrogates have been able to resume the process and move forward.

Families Created through Surrogacy Faced Uncertainty and Separation

One of the scariest parts of the year for intended parents and surrogates was the inability to travel. As countries around the world instituted travel bans and in-country quarantines, surrogates and intended parents who were pursuing international surrogacy were separated.

Intended parents and surrogates who were pursuing domestic surrogacy were largely unaffected, but some international matches are still struggling with COVID-related travel bans.

International Surrogacy Became Too Great a Risk

In many ways, 2020 signaled the end of international surrogacy. While this type of surrogacy has always held greater risk than domestic surrogacy, the tragic separation of international intended parents and surrogates forced the world to reexamine this common path to parenthood.

Now, more than ever, intended parents and surrogates are urged to complete their surrogacy journeys domestically with agencies like American Surrogacy.

Gestational Carriers Stepped Up Even Further

In the worst-case-scenarios that many international surrogacy matches had to face this year, gestational carriers once again proved themselves to be fearlessly compassionate and giving. 

Devastated international intended parents were unable to be with their surrogate for her delivery and the arrival of their child. But many of these gestational surrogates bravely took on the task of caring for the intended parents child until they could be reunited. They adapted to the challenges at hand and rose above and beyond what they were originally asked to do.

As a result, international intended parents have since been able to reunite with their babies with peace of mind, knowing that their child was cared for in their absence.

American Surrogacy Keeps Making Families

Through this rollercoaster of a year, American Surrogacy has continued to help create families. We’re so proud of our specialists, who expertly navigated our intended parents and gestational surrogates through the unknowns of 2020. 

As we move into 2021, American Surrogacy will continue to be a safe and supportive place to grow your family. Intended parents and gestational surrogates who were originally considering an international agency have now turned to domestic agencies like American Surrogacy to help them pursue their surrogacy dreams. 

Despite all the challenges and uncertainties of 2020, American Surrogacy continued to grow families through the gift of surrogacy. We’ll continue to do the same in the coming year, and we’re honored to be a part of your surrogacy journey in 2021!

Should You Pursue Surrogacy in 2021?

2020 affected us all — including gestational surrogates and intended parents. As a result of all this uncertainty, many people are now asking themselves, “Should I still move forward with surrogacy in 2021?”

It’s important to note that international surrogacy should not be attempted in 2021, due to the continued travel restrictions related to COVID-19. Below, we’ll only cover domestic surrogacy (surrogacy within the U.S.).

You may not want to wait to complete your family, or to achieve your dream of helping others experience parenthood. We completely understand. Even though things feel less certain, you still have an overwhelming desire to pursue surrogacy. If you’re ready, we’ll help you do it.

How can you know if you’re ready to begin a surrogacy journey in the coming year? Here are 5 questions that you should ask yourself before pursuing surrogacy in 2021:

1. Are you financially stable enough for surrogacy?

Did your savings take a hit as a result of the economic fallout of the ongoing pandemic? If so, you may want to revisit surrogacy once you’ve built your emergency reserves back up. But, if you feel that you’re still financially able to pursue surrogacy, 2021 may be your year.

Talking with an American Surrogacy specialist can help you to assess whether or not you’re financially ready to begin a surrogacy journey. We may be able to offer some advice to help intended parents to afford their surrogacy expenses.

2. Are you emotionally ready for surrogacy?

2020 has been an emotional year for us all. Are you feeling up to the emotions of surrogacy right now?

The surrogacy process is often very emotional, for both the gestational carrier and the intended parents. Again, talk to an American Surrogacy specialist about what to expect. That way, you’ll be ready to face the ups and downs ahead. Remember that we’re always here to support you!

3. Are you physically ready for surrogacy?

Women who are considering becoming a gestational surrogate have to meet a series of important physical health requirements to ensure that surrogacy is safe for them. Intended parents also need to be physically ready for surrogacy, but in a different way. They need to have a home and family that is truly ready for a new addition.

On top of these requirements, COVID-19 is going to continue to be a physical concern for surrogates and intended parents in 2021. We’ll touch more on that later.

But for now, if you’re unsure about the physical requirements of surrogacy, reach out to an American Surrogacy specialist. They’ll be able to provide you with more information and talk to you about the preliminary screening processes.

4. Do you have a support system?

This year, we’ve all been separated from friends and family — the people we usually lean on for support. Now, more than ever, it’s important for you to have a strong support system. Even if they’re cheering you on from a distance!

Intended parents: Do you have people you can turn to for emotional support and encouragement as you begin the surrogacy process in 2021? When you need to be with your surrogate, or when it’s time to welcome your baby, do you have someone who can house-sit/pet-sit/babysit?

Surrogates: Likewise, do you have people you can rely on for emotional support and encouragement? When you need to attend doctor appointments, when you advance in your pregnancy and when it’s time to deliver, do you have someone who can watch your kids and help you around the home?

Remember that your American Surrogacy specialist will always be here to support you in any way she can!

5. Would you feel more comfortable waiting until there’s a vaccine?

This is something that every prospective surrogate and intended parent will need to decide for themselves. We all hoped that there would be an effective and widely-available COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2020. But as we go into 2021, you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to put your surrogacy journey on hold until that vaccine is globally distributed, or if you’re going to move forward.

Pregnant women and newborns are in the “high-risk” category for COVID-related health complications. This is a scary thought for surrogates and intended parents. And while many people have had successful surrogacy journeys in the midst of the pandemic, you’ll have to decide for yourself if you feel comfortable moving forward.

It’s also worth noting that the early stages of surrogacy take some time — there wouldn’t be a pregnancy right away! First, you’ll need to complete the screening processes. Perhaps you feel comfortable starting those preliminary processes right now, knowing that it’ll be some time before you’re ready to move forward with an actual pregnancy. Again, that’s all up to you and your individual comfort level.

American Surrogacy has been successfully guiding our gestational surrogates and intended parents through the COVID-19 crisis, just like we’ve helped every family who has partnered with our agency. We’re committed to your safety, and to the safety of the children at the heart of surrogacy. So, if you’re ready, we’ll be here to help you safely pursue surrogacy in 2021!

Want to take the first steps toward this dream? Contact us now, and we’ll help you to achieve your surrogacy goals in the coming year.

How to Stay Safe While Celebrating the Holidays

With the holiday season in full swing, everyone is concerned about limiting the spread of COVID-19 while still finding ways to gather and celebrate with loved ones. Intended parents and gestational carriers have to be even more cautious — pregnant women and infants are considered are at high-risk for serious health complications caused by COVID-19.

Can intended parents and gestational surrogates still honor their holiday traditions in the midst of this ongoing pandemic? With some reasonable precautions, modifications and common sense — yes!

Here are 3 tips to help intended parents and surrogates celebrate safely this holiday season:

1. Know When to Say “No”

This has been tough for all of us this year. But for the health and safety of everyone, sometimes it’s best to say, “Sorry, we can’t come,” when invited to that gathering or event.

Any time you and your family are considering being around others this holiday season, whether you’re thinking about visiting family or hosting people in your own home, you’ll need to ask yourself some important questions:

  • Is this worth the risk of contracting COVID-19, or of accidentally exposing someone else?
  • Have you or anyone in attendance felt sick or experienced COVID symptoms?
  • Can it be done virtually?
  • Can we all practice social distancing and wear masks?
  • Can it be rescheduled?
  • Can we all quarantine before and after?

Nobody wants to be that person who turns down an invitation. But right now, for the safety of your family, it might be necessary. Someone else’s temporary disappointment is not worth the risking the lives of yourself, your family and potentially, an unborn baby.

2. Try Something Different This Year

Instead of trying to go about the holidays as usual, adapt to the current situation! Get creative. Skip the in-person get-togethers and consider:

  • Sending each of your friends or family members a handwritten letter. List all the reasons you’re thankful for them.
  • Swapping gifts long-distance through the mail.
  • Scheduling a regular virtual event throughout the season, like marathoning your way through cheesy Christmas movies together using a multi-viewer platform.
  • Skipping the huge, time-consuming holiday dinner this year and do something more fun. Make tacos, spaghetti, pizzas, or challenge each other to a bake-off.
  • Finding a way to make the holidays feel special when you can’t participate in your regular traditions, like having a Nutcracker dance-along in your living room instead of seeing it performed live.

3. Travel Safely

Although traveling is not recommended, if you do decide to travel for the holidays, make sure you’re traveling as safely as possible. That means:

  • Not traveling if you feel sick!
  • Driving instead of flying.
  • Taking the area’s number of COVID cases into account.
  • Wearing your mask — always!
  • Social distancing from other travelers.
  • Keeping hand sanitizer close by.
  • Quarantining before you leave and after you return (and encourage the people you’ll be around to do the same).
  • Keeping your get-together as small as possible.

Again, if you can, don’t travel at all! This year is the perfect excuse to cuddle up with your household family members, bake some cookies and binge your way through a TV series.

We know that not being able to participate in some of our favorite holiday traditions is disappointing. But, it’s more important for intended parents and surrogates to stay safe and healthy right now. Your family will understand. Hopefully, by this time next year you’ll be able to have a huge reunion. And, by next year, there will hopefully be a new baby celebrating the holidays with the intended family!