Since the Covid-19 vaccination programs started, we have not stopped receiving your messages asking us if the vaccine is compatible with breastfeeding. In this previous post we have collected official recommendations of the main international organizations about the vaccine. As there is a lot of information available,here we wanted to answer some of the main doubts about the vaccine.
Can I be vaccinated against Covid-19 if I am breastfeeding?
Although no trials have been carried out in breastfeeding mothers, based on what is known about other similar vaccines and the evolution of the disease, the main official organizations worldwide recommend vaccinating breastfeeding mothers who are part of a risk group, such as those working in health care. This has been stated by the WHO, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, the European Medicines Agency and the Baby Friendly Initiative among others.
Is the vaccine recommended only for breastfeeding mothers who are health care professionals?
For the time being, most of the organizations we have mentioned recommend vaccinating breastfeeding mothers who are part of a risk group. Breastfeeding health professionals are the most frequently mentioned group among them, but they are not the only ones. Employees of nursing homes for the elderly have also been vaccinated. Women who are considered to be at risk, because they have a certain disease would also be included. The vaccine has not yet been given to the rest of the population and we will have to wait for recommendations that then will be made.
Should I stop breastfeeding or skip feeds after the vaccination?
The WHO does not recommend to stop breastfeeding after you have been vaccinated.
Should I preventively “pump and dump” milk for a few hours after I had the vaccine?
The vaccine is considered compatible with breastfeeding and it is not necessary to express and discard breastmilk after vaccination.
Does the vaccine pass into breastmilk?
So far there is no scientific evidence on whether Covid-19 vaccines are passed into breastmilk. However, as Dr. José María Paricio from e-lactancia.org explains, vaccines composed of pieces of virus, such the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine, do not pose any danger even if they pass into milk, because “only a protein of the virus that can be digested by the digestive system would be passed on”.
If I get vaccinated, can I pass the virus to my baby through my milk?
No. Vaccines with mRNA technology (such as the ones from Pfizer and Moderna) do not contain live virus, but pieces of virus. They cannot cause disease in the person receiving the vaccine, so they cannot cause disease in that person’s breastfed baby.
Can I pass on my immunity to my baby through breastmilk?
There is no scientific evidence on this as yet. At LactApp we have initiated the first study in the European Union to find out if the milk of mothers who have been vaccinated is able to transmit antibodies to their babies and to quantify them, so we can understand if they can protect infants. We received more than 300 applications to participate in this study, of which 26 mothers were finally selected. Between 10 and 12 breast milk samples from participants, both before and after vaccination, will be analyzed to determine the composition of the milk. The samples will be examined by the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology (IATA) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). With this study we want to provide scientific evidence in a field where there has been hardly any research.
Why have I received conflicting advice on whether I can be vaccinated?
Some organizations that initially did not recommend vaccinating breastfeeding mothers have changed their position and now do recommend it. This is the case, for example, of Public Health England, which has changed its position.
Even so, despite the favorable official recommendations mentioned at the beginning of this article, we still hear of many breastfeeding mothers who request to be vaccinated and have been denied in the UK as well as worldwide.
What do I do if they refuse to give me the vaccine?
Despite the fact that official organizations recommend vaccinating people at risk even if they are breastfeeding, we receive daily testimonials of users who have been denied the vaccine. If this is your case, you can provide them the summarized information in this post, where you will find updated recommendations from the official organizations.
So, would you recommend me to get vaccinated?
We believe that getting vaccinated for Covid-19 is a personal decision. Our goal is to make information available to all women and to engage in the necessary research when it is not available, so that you are free to make your own decision with the most complete information at your hands.