Vaccines And Breastfeeding: What Moms Should Know

Conflicting vaccine information online can be distressing to new parents. Here's some helpful information to give you the peace of mind.

One of the questions we hear from many new moms and moms-to-be is whether it is safe to get vaccinated while breastfeeding. Vaccination has been a hot topic in recent years with passionate advocates on both sides. This makes it really easy to find conflicting information and oftentimes leads to even more questions than any real answers. We understand that this can be distressing, so we’ve compiled some helpful information to give you the peace of mind you deserve during this special time.

So, is it Safe to Get Vaccinated While Breastfeeding?

The short answer to whether vaccines are safe during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is yes. The majority of live viruses in vaccines have been shown to not transfer into human milk and do not pose a risk for mothers who are breastfeeding or for their infants. This means that most vaccines are not hazardous for nursing mothers or their infants. In fact, there is evidence that breastfed babies sometimes even respond better to immunizations than babies on formula. We strongly recommend speaking to your healthcare provider about any questions or concerns during your pregnancy and breastfeeding experience. You can also refer to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) for information to learn more about vaccinations while pregnant and nursing

In fact, the CDC has developed a helpful chart that lists each vaccine and whether they recommend any precautions taken for each while breastfeeding. We have shared some of the more common vaccines below, as well as any CDC-recommended precautions to take

VACCINE

CDC-RECOMMENDED PRECAUTION

Diphtheria-Tetanus

None

Influenza, Inactivated Whole Virus or Subunit

None

Hepatitis A

No data available, though the CDC says effects of this vaccine on breastfed infants is unlikely.

Hepatitis B

None

Measles

None

Meningococcal Meningitis

None

Mumps

None

Polio, Inactivated

None

Rabies

No data available, though the CDC says this vaccine is commonly given to nursing mothers without negative effects on their breastfed infants.

Rubella

None

Smallpox

Should not be administered to nursing women. In the unlikely event of a smallpox outbreak, contact your state health department for further recommendations.

Tuberculosis

No data available.

Typhoid

No data available, though the CDC says that this vaccine may be used when your risk of exposure to typhoid fever is high.

Yellow Fever

Should not be administered to nursing women; however, if a nursing mom is traveling to a region designated as a high-risk yellow fever-endemic area then the vaccine cannot be avoided or postponed.

 

Great, but are Vaccines Safe During Pregnancy?

Not only are the majority of vaccines safe during pregnancy, but the CDC actually recommends that pregnant women receive certain immunizations to help protect themselves and their newborns. This is because pregnant and postpartum women are at a higher risk for illness and health complications, particularly from the flu, than women who are not expecting. Because this increased risk is due to changes that occur in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy, it is important to talk to your doctor about when and how to ensure you’re your immunizations are current.

Two major vaccinations that the CDC recommends for pregnant women are:

  • Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis)

This vaccine protects newborns from whooping cough, a respiratory infection that causes severe coughing, trouble breathing and can be fatal for babies. Plan to get this vaccine around 27 – 36 weeks pregnant to allow your body ample time to create antibodies and then pass them to your baby before birth. This will protect your little one as soon as he or she is born, while they are most vulnerable to complications, and until they are old enough to get their own whooping cough vaccination at 2 months old

  • Flu Shot

The CDC also recommends that you receive a flu shot during any trimester of your pregnancy to protect yourself and your newborn from the flu. This reduces the risk of becoming sick and then passing the flu on to your baby (and any other children in the household). This is especially important for children younger than 6 months old, since they are too young to get a flu shot themselves

Vaccines, Breastfeeding and Pregnancy

We understand that there’s a lot of information out there and it can be stressful determining what’s accurate, so you can decide what’s right for you and your growing baby! The last thing you need is one more thing to worry about – you know what’s best for your little one and we encourage you to use this resource as a guide. Don’t hesitate to address any immunization questions or concerns you may have while pregnant or breastfeeding with your healthcare provider. You have a big support team behind you and we’re all here to make your journey a little easier!