Now that the COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out, pregnant and breastfeeding women may have questions about the benefits and risks. Research has shown the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be very effective, preventing 94% to 95% of COVID-19 infections. Unfortunately, these trials did not include breastfeeding or pregnant women, which is typical for any vaccine trial. But knowing how these vaccines work, we expect there should be a relatively low risk for pregnancy and breastfeeding women and their babies. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine recommend that the COVID-19 vaccine should be made available and offered to any woman who is pregnant or breastfeeding.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you may choose to go ahead and get the vaccine for various reasons.
Some of the reasons to get the vaccine may include:
- Living in a community where the rates of COVID-19 are high
- Working at a job that makes it hard to socially distance or to wear a mask at all times
- Having a health condition that puts you at a higher risk of getting COVID-19
- If the thought of getting COVID-19 makes you more anxious than the unknowns of the vaccine itself
Some reasons to wait for more information before getting the vaccine may include:
- Living in a community where the COVID-19 rates are low
- Finding it easy to wear a mask and socially distance at all times
- Finding that the vaccine and the related unknowns make you more nervous than getting COVID-19
We do know that COVID-19 during pregnancy makes women sicker. Moms who are pregnant and get COVID-19 have a higher risk of a hospital stay, a higher risk of needing a machine to help them breathe, and a higher risk of needing to go to the intensive care unit.
Even though the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine trials did not include pregnant patients, some patients in the trial did get pregnant. Overall, the results from their pregnancies were very reassuring, but the numbers are still too small for us to make any conclusions. We think the vaccine is safe in breastfeeding. We also don’t believe any components of the vaccine get into breast milk. And even if a small amount does, it should be automatically digested and should not cause harm. There also may be a benefit of breastfeeding because any antibodies that a mom makes from the vaccine could be transmitted to the baby via breast milk and give baby protection against COVID-19.
We’re still learning a lot about COVID-19 and how the vaccines work during pregnancy and breastfeeding. So, all of this guidance could change as more data comes out. We encourage you to talk about this decision with your medical provider.