Updated: Jun 8, 2021
Through most of 2020 I was worried about carrying the Covid-19 virus, not knowing it, and then inadvertently passing it along to the mothers and babies I work with. It was quite unnerving to know that I could be a vector and potentially cause harm to my patients. I know every medical professional felt the same way and we all took (and continue to take) as many precautions as possible, but it's still unnerving. I was vaccinated as soon as I could be (December 2020) and MAN did that feel like a load off my shoulders. Not only for my own health, but for those families I work with. I knew from nursing school that once vaccinated it would be extremely rare for me to not only GET sick, but to pass it along to others. Whew. I was so grateful (yes, I actually cried tears of relief when getting my first shot).
Getting a vaccine is a very personal decision that I know takes a lot of thought and discernment. But for those who DO want to get the vaccine, but are breastfeeding and worry about the risks, this blog will try to lay out what we know at this moment in time.
The American Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine is a physician-led organization that strives to bring vetted, peer-reviewed, evidence-based information to the public. They are FULLY committed to diving deeply into breastfeeding research so they can provide guidance to parents and the medical staff who care for them. I trust them and their commitment to protect and promote breastfeeding whenever safe and possible. For a more detailed version of their formal statement, click HERE.
Based on how vaccines work in the body, COVID-19 vaccines are thought NOT to be a risk to lactating people or their breastfeeding babies. Therefore, lactating people can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Recent reports have shown that breastfeeding people who have received COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which could help protect their babies. More data are needed to determine what protection these antibodies may provide to the baby. Until we have more data on lactating parents, however, our information is based on the biology we know, not a huge amount of data from research. Lactating women were excluded from the initial research, so we will need to wait for more thorough, definitive information.
Making the decision to get the vaccine or not will ideally be based on shared-decision-making with your trusted health care provider. Take your time. Do your research. Stay safe. Let's all be in this together, knowing that we are doing the best we can with the information we have.