‘I’m Breastfeeding. Should I Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?’

ByJerni Camposano-GomezJanuary 10, 2022
covid 19 vaccine for moms
Breastfeeding mamas are especially careful with a lot of our decisions—from the food we eat to the medicines we take. We understand that feeding a little human is a huge responsibility, and that the contents of our breastmilk can be affected by a number of reasons. We even limit our intake of certain foods and beverages, and double-check if a certain medication is safe for our nursing baby.
So it is only natural for breastfeeding moms to be hesitant and start finding answers to the most common question in this chapter of the pandemic, when everyone is encouraged to be inoculated: “Should I register and get the COVID-19 vaccine?” 
“Yes. Breastfeeding moms can get any available COVID-19 vaccine after consultation with their physicians,” said pediatrician Dr. Ana Frances Tongol.
The breastfeeding advocate, teacher, and mom of three boys explained that COVID-19 vaccines induce the production of antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and these antibodies are eventually passed to nursing infants or children through breastmilk. “Vaccines received by breastfeeding mothers do not affect their milk supply so you need not worry that yours will be diminished after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.”
We spoke with Dr. Ana to learn more about things breastfeeding moms need to know before getting that first dose. 
What are the factors breastfeeding moms should consider before we get the vaccine?
1. Known side effects: Read up on the COVID-19 vaccine that you are about to receive. There is also a pre-vaccination counseling, so you may ask about the local and systemic symptoms associated with your chosen vaccine. If these are acceptable to you, you may give your informed consent for vaccination.
2. If you are exclusively breastfeeding, ask the vaccination center for their policy regarding breastfeeding mothers. It takes a minimum of 1.5 to 2 hours for the entire procedure so if you can’t be away from your baby that long, discuss this with the vaccination officers.
3. Getting the vaccine may also protect the people in your household or those around you, because if you are protected from getting infected from the disease, you are less likely to infect someone else, especially those family members who are not eligible to receive the vaccine like your baby. 
How should we prepare for the day we receive the vaccine?
Just like any other day, eat your meals on time and take your maintenance medicines if you have any. Bring your fully-charged cellphone, pens, valid IDs, vaccine schedule confirmation, and medical certificate. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Put on your face mask and face shield before leaving the house.
What should we expect after the first jab? 
The most commonly encountered localized symptoms after vaccination include pain, swelling, and redness on the vaccinated arm. Common systemic symptoms are tiredness, fever, headache, muscle pains, joint pains, nausea, and chills. These side effects are minimal and are normal signs that your body is building protection. Some vaccinees experience no side effects at all.
Should we nurse our baby right away when we get home? If not, how long should we wait before breastfeeding the baby?
After taking a bath, you may breastfeed your baby right away. There is no truth to the “pump and dump” technique after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Continue breastfeeding your baby.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding the baby after getting the COVID-19 vaccine?
Maternal antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 that passively transfer into the breastmilk confer protection to the baby against COVID-19. Some studies have detected antibodies IgA and IgG in breastmilk in as early as 7 days and persist for months post vaccination.
How should we prepare for the second dose?
Just like how you prepared for the first dose. However, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), side effects after the second shot may be more intense than the ones experienced after the first shot. So just be aware of the side effects you are expecting. These are normal signs that the body is building protection and should go away within a few days. There is no need to premedicate before vaccination for the purpose of preventing these side effects.
Any other tips for breastfeeding moms who will be getting the vaccine?
1. Apply cold compress over the injection site just like you do when your baby gets his or her routine shots.
2. Do not immobilize the arm where you got the shot. Use or exercise it.
3. Taking a bath is not contraindicated post vaccination. You may take a bath as soon as you get home from the vaccination center.
4. No contraindications for food and drinks, either.
(Dr. Ana Frances Tongol is a general pediatrician specializing in child health, offering expert medical care for children of all ages up to age 18 (newborn to early adulthood). She is also a teacher, breastfeeding advocate, and mom of three boys. For online consultations, you can visit her Facebook page.)
Editor’s Note: It is important that you make an informed decision. For more information about COVID-19 vaccines, visit the World Health Organization website or the Department of Health website
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