Covid in pregnancy has been linked to stillbirths and newborn deaths in a new Scottish study. 

The research has once again raised questions about what the potential risks are if you are pregnant and what this means about taking the vaccine.

We have looked at the results from the Covid-19 in Pregnancy in Scotland (Cops) study as well as the current government guidance.

Here are the answers to some of the most asked questions around the virus and pregnancy to help give you peace of mind.

Bournemouth Echo: A pregnant woman. Credit: PAA pregnant woman. Credit: PA

Is it safe to take the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy?

Yes, in December, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) said that pregnant women should be considered as a clinical risk group for Covid-19 and should be given vaccines quickly.

There is no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 vaccines given during pregnancy lead to an increase in the risk of miscarriage, stillbirths, congenital abnormalities or birth complications.

Despite this, researchers found that vaccination uptake during the period of the study (between December 2020 and October 2021) was lower in pregnant women, compared with women aged 18 to 44 in the general population.

Bournemouth Echo: A person getting the vaccine. Credit: PAA person getting the vaccine. Credit: PA

Only 32% of pregnant women who gave birth in October 2021 were fully vaccinated – meaning more than 14 days had elapsed since a second vaccine – compared with 77% of the general female population aged 18 to 44.

"When you’re pregnant, you want to do all you can to keep your baby – and yourself – safe. That’s why the RCM is urging women to take up the COVID-19 vaccine," Dr Mary Ross-Davie, Director for Professional Midwifery at RCM, said.

Dr Ross-Davie continued: "Having COVID-19 during pregnancy carries a far higher risk than having the vaccine, particularly in the later stages where it can have serious consequences for both mother and baby.

"It can double the chance of stillbirth and triples the chance of a preterm birth, which can have a long-term health impact for the baby.

"We know that the vaccine is a safe and effective way of preventing this, with hundreds of thousands of pregnant women worldwide having been vaccinated.

"And we also know that women turn to their midwives for advice, so we’ve produced some great resources for midwives and maternity staff to support women in their decision-making."

Bournemouth Echo: A child touching a pregnant woman's stomach. Credit: PAA child touching a pregnant woman's stomach. Credit: PA

What are the risks of a COVID-19 infection if you are pregnant?

The conclusion that medical experts have made is that it is safer to have the Covid vaccine while pregnant than it is to have Covid itself.

The Cops study, which brought scientists from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Strathclyde, and St Andrew’s, Public Health Scotland, and Victoria University of Wellington, included more than 87,000 women in Scotland.

The research found that the majority (98%) of pregnant women with Covid-19 who were admitted to critical care were unvaccinated.

It also said that preterm births, stillbirths and newborn deaths were more common among women who had the virus 28 days or less before their delivery date.

Experts have stressed though that it is not possible to say if Covid-19 contributed directly to the deaths or preterm births since they didn't have access to the clinical records for individual women.

Bournemouth Echo: A lateral flow test. Credit: PAA lateral flow test. Credit: PA

Cops co-lead Dr Sarah Stock, of the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute, who is also a consultant obstetrician, said: “Our data add to the evidence that vaccination in pregnancy does not increase the risk of complications in pregnancy, but Covid-19 does.

“Covid-19 vaccination in pregnancy is crucial to protect women and babies from preventable, life-threatening complications of Covid-19.”

You can read the rest of the findings from the study in Nature Medicine.

Pregnancy and Covid-19 and working

Under current government advice, "Pregnant women of any gestation should not be required to continue working if this is not supported by the risk assessment."

If you are pregnant, you should be given special consideration under the Government's guides for different industries.

You are encouraged to speak with your line manager and occupational health team to work out what is best for how best for your health and safety in the workplace.