Breastfeeding parents may be unsure if it’s safe to get the COVID-19 vaccine while continuing to breastfeed. COVID vaccines are thought not to be a risk to lactating people or their breastfeeding babies. Additionally, recent reports have found a positive connection between the COVID-19 vaccine and breastfeeding, showing that disease-fighting antibodies from the vaccine may pass through breastmilk for the baby’s benefit. Here’s the latest information from the CDC about the COVID-19 vaccine and breastfeeding.
Reassuring news from COVID-19 vaccine research.
The reports found that lactating people who had received an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna) had measurable levels of COVID-19 antibodies in their breastmilk. This is important to note because, for now, infants can’t get a COVID-19 shot. Although most babies who contract COVID-19 don’t have severe cases, getting a bit of mom’s protection could still give them a helpful immune boost — and provide some much-needed peace of mind for parents.
This news should reassure breastfeeding women who are worried about getting their vaccine. While more data is needed to determine just how much protection these antibodies may provide to babies, researchers don’t consider vaccination a risk to infants. It can’t hurt and it may even help.
However, vaccination will protect mom, and she can resume breastfeeding immediately after the shot.
“The information about vaccination during pregnancy and breastfeeding is all very reassuring,” says James T. Christmas, MD, medical director of women’s and obstetrics services at HCA Clinical Services Group. “Both are considered to be safe, with a neutral to beneficial impact on the fetus. Since we know that pregnant women and recently pregnant women tend to get sicker from COVID-19 than non-pregnant women, vaccination is something I encourage.”
While it’s the mRNA vaccines that showed antibody transmission in breastmilk, Dr. Christmas’ advice extends to all currently available vaccines, including Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. However, do be aware of the rare but increased risk of blood clots for women under 50 with this vaccine.
Still, according to Dr. Christmas, “there’s no scientific reason now to believe that one vaccine would be more or less preferable than the others.”
Currently, none of the available vaccines contain a live virus, so they don’t pose a danger to breastfeeding individuals. This is also why it’s considered safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women to get certain other vaccines, such as the flu shot, which contains a killed (inactivated) version of the influenza virus.
Always talk with your doctor before getting a COVID vaccine.
If you book an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine and find yourself with cold feet on the day, you will likely have some resources readily available to you. Depending on where you go, there may be nurses or physicians on-site to help address last-minute concerns or questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and breastfeeding, or other topics. If you get your shot at a drugstore, the pharmacist can help, too.
Most importantly, be sure to talk with your doctor. They’re your best source of information, and they want to help. Physicians get these kinds of questions all the time from pregnant and recently pregnant people, and they want patients to feel empowered and informed about their healthcare choices. Ask as many questions as you need to feel confident in your care plan. After all, this virus can be particularly concerning. Doing all you can to protect yourself and your family from its potentially severe effects can make all the difference.
Ready to get your free COVID-19 vaccine? Find vaccination locations near you at vaccines.gov.
At Medical City Healthcare, moms and babies are cherished and protected.