Avera Medical Minute: Questions and answers about the COVID vaccine and pregnant, breastfeeding moms

Published: Jan. 7, 2021 at 1:08 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - As the covid vaccine becomes available to more people, some women wonder if it’s safe while pregnant, nursing, or planning to become pregnant someday.

Medical Minute reporter Beth Warden talks to Avera labor and delivery doctor physician Catherine Brockmeier, who chose the vaccine for herself while breastfeeding her baby.

Q: Tell me what it was like to be pregnant during the pandemic.

A: I was pregnant on April 1st, so kind of right at the very beginning. I worked through the entire thing, continue to take care of patients in the clinic in the hospital. I’ve delivered moms who come into the hospital and delivered them while they have COVID.

Q: Were you pregnant when you had the vaccine or had you already delivered your baby?

A: I got the vaccine when I was about four weeks postpartum, and I am breastfeeding, so I made sure to do research about the safety of the vaccine and in breastfeeding moms. And I think if it had been available, and I was still pregnant, I would have made the same decision to get the vaccine as well. The risk of getting COVID outweighs the risk of getting the vaccine at this point.

Q: If I was an expectant mom trying to decide whether or not to get the vaccine, what would you say?

A: I think it really comes down to a conversation with your provider. So, if you were my patient I would want to talk about what you know first. What are your concerns about getting the vaccine, what are your questions, try to put your fears at ease. We don’t have a lot of data on how it affects, pregnant women. The good news is it’s not a live virus vaccine, it doesn’t go into your cells, it doesn’t go into fetal cells. So, the thought is that it’s safe. The antibodies that you’re developing from received vaccines in pregnancy actually are passed through the placenta to the baby. And so the baby is born with some immunity. That’s how we use vaccines against pertussis which causes whooping cough and against seasonal influenza. So, those are vaccines that we also recommend in pregnancy to protect mom and baby.

Q: I understand those antibodies can be given from Mom to baby while breastfeeding?

A: In breastfeeding, we also see the same benefits. Our newborns are not going to be vaccinated against COVID for quite some time, so this is an additional way to protect them and that was really my reasoning for getting the vaccine as well. Now that I’m vaccinated I feel really hopeful about everything going forward.

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