Breast milk offers a blanket of protection but its not the only way to boost your baby’s lifelong immunity. Vaccines prevent close to two to three million deaths every year worldwide, yet over 22 million infants remain unimmunized. But what if you’re a new mom and unsure of your options? What if you’re breastfeeding and concerned about the side effects? There are so many conflicting opinions online that making the decision can seem overwhelming.
That’s why we’ve done the work for you. Here are a few facts that you might find helpful if you’re considering immunisation or booster updates while still nursing your little one.
Is it safe to get vaccinated while breastfeeding?
The simple answer is YES! Studies show that most live viruses in vaccines do not transfer through human milk and hence do not pose a risk to breastfed infants. When it comes to passing on maternal antibodies through breast milk, there is also no evidence to show that it interferes with the child’s immune response. Research shows that breastfed babies may perhaps respond better to vaccination than formula-fed babies. Today, even vaccines made with live viruses - excluding the Live Attenuated Smallpox and Yellow Fever - are safe for nursing mothers and their infants.
The science of Immunisation has come a long way. While a mother’s immunisation should ideally start well before the baby is born, vaccination even later on is important. Ultimately, the health and protection of both mother and baby lie in the balance. Mothers who are immunised just before or during pregnancy can pass on antibodies to their growing babies. Immunisation, especially during the later stages of pregnancy, is beneficial for the child in the early first weeks to months of its life.
When everyone in a community gets vaccinated, it reduces the chance of contracting life-threatening illnesses, stops the spread of infectious diseases and contributes to better health all around. Immunisation today isn’t just a healthcare suggestion; it’s a crucial part of improving the health of entire communities.
What about side-effects?
Depending on a whole range of factors, whether or not you are pregnant or breastfeeding, vaccinations may leave you with a few side effects. These include some pain where the shot was administered, muscle soreness, some swelling or a mild fever. But these usually disappear quickly. So, whether you are planning a baby, are pregnant or already holding your little one in your arms, if you aren’t up-to-date on your vaccines, talk to your doctor about a recommended schedule right away.
Some routine vaccines and the precautions recommended* for safety during breastfeeding.
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