If you’re breastfeeding, you may have questions about the risks and benefits of these vaccines. (If you are pregnant and wondering about COVID-19 vaccines, you can also read this blog post.)
Keep in mind that information is evolving rapidly. Your obstetric provider or medical team can advise you more fully about potential benefits and risks to you and your child, based on your personal health risks, exposures to the virus that causes COVID-19, and your preferences.
COVID-19 is potentially dangerous for all people. However, no data suggest that individuals who are breastfeeding are at higher risk for severe infection. That’s also true for individuals during the postpartum period (first 12 weeks after birth).
If you do get COVID-19 while breastfeeding, it’s possible to infect your baby through contact and respiratory droplets. However, no reports have suggested that COVID-19 is passed from mother to baby through breast milk. This means mothers who have COVID-19 may continue to provide their babies with breast milk, either while breastfeeding or by pumping milk to be given to the baby by bottle. Remember to pay close attention to handwashing and wear a well-fitting mask when caring for your baby.
Getting vaccinated during pregnancy or during the postpartum period can help protect you and your baby after birth. Unlike COVID-19, some of a mother’s immunity against COVID-19 from a vaccine can pass through breast milk to your baby.
Which vaccines are approved or authorized?
The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for people ages 16 and older (children 12 to 15 can receive this vaccine through emergency use authorization). The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines have emergency use authorization from the FDA.
All of these vaccines deliver instructions to the body that help the immune system block the virus that causes COVID-19. This can be done in different ways:
- Two-dose Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine: this vaccine uses mRNA.
- Two-dose Moderna vaccine: this vaccine uses mRNA.
- One-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine: this vaccine uses a harmless, modified form of the common cold virus in humans called an adenovirus.
The bottom line
COVID-19 vaccination for people who are breastfeeding has many potential benefits. It helps to become as informed as you can when making your decision. We will continue to learn more about COVID vaccine safety during breastfeeding from studies now underway.
Meanwhile, you can stay informed on this evolving information by checking trusted health websites, such as those listed above, and by talking with your healthcare providers. Together you can balance the latest data on the risks of COVID-19, the safety of available vaccines for people who are breastfeeding, your individual risk factors and exposures, and your values and preferences.
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.