Are you currently expecting, breastfeeding or having an infant at home? Or are you planning a pregnancy, you might be wondering if you should get a COVID-19 vaccine. With the anomalous spread of the deadly virus in India and the side-by-side vaccine rollout in progress, the doctors are often asked if the Covid vaccines are safe for expecting and breastfeeding mothers? What are the risks of COVID-19 to the mother and therefore the potential risks to the fetus or infant, any side-effects, should the mother breastfeeding baby, take medicines after vaccination? what will be the after-effects on the pregnancy/infant after taking the vaccine?
Can Breastfeeding mother take covid-19 vaccine?
It is important to acknowledge that a majority of the patients during this pandemic need reassurance and calming advice, more so in the mental health aspect. Isolation, infodemic and disinformation all have contributed to the anxiety and also psychological problems.
Several Indian mothers breastfeeding babies, find themselves in a dilemma regarding their next step regarding the vaccine. Their major concerns revolve around the effect of the vaccine on their breastmilk supply and its influence on the infant.
For all such breastfeeding mothers it could manifest to be assuring that a lot of pediatricians across the country have further stated that vaccination could increase the benefits of breastfeeding for mothers and infants help provide them with antibodies via breast milk. This would further help build corresponding immunity against the virus in these children.
Following are a few things to know, to understand why covid vaccine for breastfeeding mothers in India are safe:
• The Government of India recently gave its compliance to administer the COVID-19 vaccination to lactating women, who wish to get the jab. This approval comes after consistent backing and guidance from The Federation of Obstetric & Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI) as well as The National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC). Both bodies state that the “benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks” and thus breastfeeding mothers must be educated about the vaccine and given the option to make an informed decision.
• Recently, this reasoning was also backed by the President of the Indian Society of Clinical Research (ISCR), stating that vaccinating lactating women gives protection against the virus for both of them as she is a mother breastfeeding a baby.
• Although there’s limited data on the effect of the vaccine on breastfeeding mothers, it would be noteworthy that both vaccines available in India are non-live vaccines. Additionally, the spike protein used for these vaccines is being made using technology which is time-tested. Hence, it is believed that both the non-live Indian vaccines would not get excreted in breastmilk or be absorbed by infants.There is no data that the vaccine will have an effect on breastfeeding, which has multifold benefits for both the mother and child.
• Indian mothers breastfeeding, must get vaccinated as soon as possible since there is no risks involved in vaccinating them. Also, the antibodies could pass to the babies, and it may offer immunity to the baby also like other vaccines given in pregnancy.There is no known risk in having the COVID-19 vaccines if you are a mother breastfeeding a baby, so you would still be offered the vaccine.
• Another point of debate among breastfeeding mothers is to think about weaning their babies off breast milk so as to take the vaccine. Many misleading sources have been claiming that one must pause the activity of breastfeeding for a few days post-vaccination, which are false claims and not medically supported. Contrary to this, it must be kept in mind that for infants under the age of six months, breast milk being the primary source of nutrition is highly recommended as their main source of food.
For those who still wish to take a gap from giving breastmilk in the immediate days post-vaccination, it is recommended that they consider offering previously expressed and stored breast milk to the infant during that time-frame. This may help ease the mother’s mind of any doubts that she may have while taking care of the infant’s nutritional needs without negatively impacting the breastfeeding journey.Vaccination in no way should be the rationale to discontinue breastfeeding at any point of time. They are safe and everybody should be encouraged to take it.
Published on: 15th June 2021