Choosing vaccination while breastfeeding (or pregnant)

July 28, 2021
Choosing vaccination while breastfeeding (or pregnant)

Jessica Bohren is a certified nurse midwife . . . and a breastfeeding mom. Here’s what her COVID vaccination experience was like.

“It was a really hard decision for me to get vaccinated while breastfeeding. My original plan was to wait another month or two as more people got vaccinated, so I could see that everyone was doing okay with it.”

“I knew that I wanted to, for a lot of different reasons. My baby would get antibodies from my immunity, through my breast milk. My husband and I both work and our baby is in daycare, and his classroom had been shut down twice for potential COVID exposure. I wanted to do anything I could to protect him.

“The other big reason was to see family. The few times we did get together with them (outside, with precautions), we were the dangerous family – potentially exposing them to COVID. We were risking everybody.

“I had minor side effects with my first dose, slight pain at the injection site for a few hours and a bit of a headache; then with the second dose about a week of fatigue and some nausea.

“The vaccine had no impact on my breast milk supply, and my son was fine, not fussy or anything. I found that reassuring.”

Jessica helps patients think through their decision, too.

“I totally understand the hesitation. When I talk with patients who are pregnant, we talk about benefits and risks, balancing everything we know about getting COVID in pregnancy: pregnant women have a higher risk of pre-term birth, and are much more likely to get much sicker, and potentially end up in ICU. And if you get COVID while breastfeeding, now you have to take care of a baby while you’re sick, and deal with masking and precautions while caring for your baby.

“I realize it’s a really hard decision, but I do recommend getting vaccinated, both in pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

“I chose to get vaccinated to get back to normal life and end this pandemic. I know this is the only way out.”

Jessica Bohren, APRN, CNM is a certified nurse midwife at NH+C. She sees patients in the Women’s Health Center and delivers babies in the Birth Center at Northfield Hospital.

Photo credit: Tracie Bea Photographie