A new study has recommended the administration of the COVID vaccine for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you might be wondering how the COVID vaccine will affect your health and the health of your baby. Before you make your decision here are some important things you should know.
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What is the COVID-19 vaccine?
A coronavirus vaccine is similar to any other vaccine. It helps stimulate your immune system to make blood proteins or antibodies against a foreign invader in your body just the way it would react when it is exposed to the real COVID-19 virus.
There are currently two types of COVID 19 vaccines:
- Viral vector vaccine
- mRNA vaccine
Who should get the COVID vaccine?
The Corona vaccine is recommended and made mandatory for everyone who is 12 years and older.
It is also recommended to women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, women who might get pregnant in the future, or women who are trying to get pregnant currently.
Are pregnant and breastfeeding mothers at an increased risk of getting ill because of COVID-19?
Obstetricians and gynecologists all over the world believe that viral infections do get worse in pregnant women. Chickenpox and hepatitis E are some of the examples of those viral infections.
So it is clear that pregnant and breastfeeding women are at an increased risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19 when compared to women who are not pregnant or breastfeeding.
What pregnant and breastfeeding mothers need to know before getting the COVID vaccine?
When the coronavirus vaccine first appeared there was little to no information available on how this vaccine will impact pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
But with current evidence and studies experts all over the world suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine is completely safe and equally effective for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists recommends that all pregnant women should definitely get vaccinated against coronavirus because the risks outweigh the number of benefits this vaccine has.
Is the COVID vaccine safe for pregnant or breastfeeding mothers and their babies?
Evidence around the safety and impact of the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy and breastfeeding on fetuses and infants is growing with time.
Some recent studies have shown that vaccinated pregnant women or breastfeeding women safely pass antibodies against COVID-19 to their babies through the placenta or breast milk.
What do the medical experts say?
Here’s a tweet from Dr. Faheem Younas a certified physician executive at the University of Maryland confirming that COVID vaccines are completely safe for pregnant and lactating mothers.
Another doctor Dr. Katherine Apostolakis-Kyrus who is a maternal-fetal medicine expert at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Maternal, Fetal & Neonatal Institute in St. Petersburg says that:
“If moms who had the disease were able to pass antibodies to the baby, then hopefully moms who also get the vaccine will pass that to the baby.”
Here’s her complete video interview:
Having antibodies means that these infants will have some natural immunity buildup passed onto them against coronavirus by their mothers. These antibodies will eventually be helpful in reducing the risk or severity of infection in infants.
Some pediatricians believe that this layer of antibodies is beneficial for the well-being of infants because if infants come in contact with coronavirus they may get seriously ill.
Which coronavirus vaccines are safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women?
Vaccines including Sinovac, Sinopharm, Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca can be given to pregnant and lactating women easily.
Most of the above-mentioned vaccines require two doses. So make sure you get the complete dose of your vaccine, because then only it will be effective.
What is mRNA COVID-19 vaccine?
mRNA COVID 19 vaccines are a new form of vaccination that serves the purpose of protecting against diseases in a slightly different manner.
What mRNA COVID 19 vaccines do is they teach your cells to make a piece of protein or a protein that helps trigger an immune response in your body which produces antibodies. That specific immune response protects an individual from getting ill if the real virus enters their body.
Whereas what other vaccines do is put inactivated germs or viruses in your body to help your immune system produce antibodies against the real virus.
The prime aim of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines is to protect an individual against getting sick from COVID 19 just like any other vaccine.
How does mRNA COVID-19 vaccine work?
mRNA COVID 19 vaccines give instructions to your cells to make a spike protein.
COVID 19 mRNA vaccines are given as a shot in the upper arm muscle. When the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine reaches your muscle cells, the cells start forming a protein. After the formation of protein, cells get rid of the instructions and start displaying protein on their surface.
When your immune system recognizes the protein as a foreign invader it starts making antibodies as an immune response, just like a reaction that happens when the real COVID-19 virus invades our body.
As a result, your body learns to protect itself from coronavirus when it encounters the real virus.
Do mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have an impact on breastfeeding babies?
A recent study stated that for a mother who gets mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, their milk won’t contain any traces of RNA material. Whereas it is for sure that mothers who get mRNA COVID 19 vaccine will pass on beneficial antibodies against covid 19 to their infants through their breast milk.
Research shows that there won’t be any decline in the supply of breast milk after the mother gets mRNA COVID 19 vaccine either.
However, since mRNA COVID 19 vaccines are new, world health organizations and research centers are still evaluating them for the safety of pregnant and lactating mothers. So it is advisable for mothers to stay up to date with all the latest information.