Breastfeeding And The Covid -19 Vaccine: What Are The Risks?

Decisions must be made regarding the breastfeeding mother

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The guidance could affect hundreds of thousands of women, including an estimated 20,000 frontline workers. About 46% of mothers in England were breastfeeding babies aged 6-8 weeks in 2018/19.

Dr Vicky Thomas of the Hospital Infant Feeding Network (HIFN) said she understood concerns but underlined the fact that there was “no evidence this vaccine would be harmful to breastfeeding mothers or their children and the risk seems to many to be minimal”. On 11th December, 2020 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued the first emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to be used on people 16 and older in the United States. As the proposed timeline for distribution for the vaccine for adults begins to become clearer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also shared their guidance on the use of the vaccine for special populations — including pregnant and breastfeeding people.

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For Soon – to -Be – Moms: Risk Is Low Without Complications!

Though the data on pregnant people shows that their absolute risk is low, per the CDC, there is an increased risk of these patients becoming severely ill (meaning potentially being admitted to an ICU, needing mechanical ventilation) if they do get COVID-19 or an increased risk of preterm birth or other adverse pregnancy outcomes. They note that while there’s no available data on pregnant people receiving any of the COVID-19 vaccines being tested right now — including the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — studies on this demo are planned.

Do Pregnant Mothers Have A Choice In Choosing the Covid Vaccine ?

Absolutely! women’s rights and breastfeeding organisations are challenging government and NHS guidance that the groups say forces mothers to choose between feeding their infants in the way that they choose and protecting themselves from Covid by being vaccinated.

The NHS website advises lactating mothers to wait until they have stopped breastfeeding before having the Covid-19 vaccine. It adds: “There’s no evidence it’s unsafe if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. But more evidence is needed before you can be offered the vaccine.”

The UK government website repeats the advice, saying it was “precautionary until additional evidence is available to support the use of this vaccine in pregnancy and breastfeeding”. There have been no trials of Covid vaccines on breastfeeding women. Dr Vicky Thomas of the Hospital Infant Feeding Network (HIFN) said denying women the opportunity to be protected, or alternatively forcing them to lose the health impacts of breastfeeding for themselves and their children is yet another example of the way women have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19.”

Dr Hannah Barham Brown, the deputy leader of the Women’s Equality Party and a trainee GP, said: “The vaccine is our best defence against Covid. To insist without any evidence that certain women shouldn’t access it is completely irresponsible, especially as women make up the majority of essential workers in high-risk jobs.

What Are the Informed Choices Women Breastfeeding Will Have to Make?

“Unless the regulatory bodies reassess their position, women will face an unacceptable choice between giving up breastfeeding or putting themselves and those around them at risk. What breastfeeding mothers need is the right to make an informed choice.”

As for safety, these vaccines are believed to be “unlikely to pose a risk for people who are pregnant” because they are mRNA vaccines. Per the CDC, unlike other vaccines which put “a weakened or inactivated germ into our bodies” to trigger an immune response, mRNA vaccines instead “teach our cells how to make a protein—or even just a piece of a protein—that triggers an immune response inside our bodies. That immune response, which produces antibodies, is what protects us from getting infected if the real virus enters our bodies.”

So, based on this working knowledge, the agency says that pregnant people who are “part of a group that is recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (e.g., healthcare personnel)” can choose to be vaccinated.

Who Are The Decision Makers In This Critical Matter?

“A conversation between the patient and their clinical team may assist with decisions regarding the use of vaccines approved under EUA for the prevention of COVID-19. While a conversation with a healthcare provider may be helpful, it is not required prior to vaccination,” per the CDC. “When making a decision, pregnant people and their healthcare providers should consider the level of COVID-19 community transmission, the patient’s personal risk of contracting COVID-19, the risks of COVID-19 to the patient and potential risks to the fetus, the efficacy of the vaccine, the side effects of the vaccine and the lack of data about the vaccine during pregnancy.

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Pregnant people who experience fever following vaccination may be counseled to take acetaminophen as fever has been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. Acetaminophen may be offered as an option for pregnant people experiencing other post-vaccination symptoms as well. There is no recommendation for routine testing before receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine. Those who are trying to become pregnant do not need to avoid pregnancy after Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccination.” Women should be able to make informed decisions.

Is there any justice in the UK regulator’s decision?

There had been an “outpouring of anxiety” from frontline workers who were breastfeeding, with many feeling they had been “put in an impossible and discriminatory position because of the UK regulator’s decision”.

Joeli Brearley, founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, said some breastfeeding women had already been refused the vaccination. “Women are being forced into the position of giving up breastfeeding, giving up their career or putting themselves in grave danger, all because they are not considered a priority by drug companies or the regulators.”

Bottom line

The bottom line is no one knows the effects the covid-29 vaccine will have on the breastfeeding population. However, providing the breastfeeding woman with informed choices is key in giving them the power to choose. The choices can be hard either way. Women globally have been faced with tough decisions to make that are crucial to their future. Thank you for stopping by today. I hope you learned something. The Corona virus is very new to our world. We are still trying to understand this phenomena. I encourage you to ask God for His wisdom in helping you to make the best choice. (Paid link).


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