Whilst it is said that the benefits of Vaccinating against Covid is the answer to all of our problems, there are many Mothers who are feeling apprehensive and they are seeking assurance to advise them that the benefits of vaccination of breastfeeding women outweighs the risks, causing breastfeeding women in Australia to choose to wait until research from countries like the UK and USA, where breastfeeding women are being vaccinated, becomes available.
To help you understand this critical issue, the ABA has brought together thought-leaders in the field to discuss the latest research and data related to COVID-19, breastfeeding and the vaccine (as of 3 February 2021), including:
- Dr Karleen Gribble BRurSc PhD, Adjunct Associate Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Western Sydney University discussing COVID-19 policy development regarding infants and their mothers, a tale of weighing risk.
- Dr Nina Chad, Infant and Young Child Feeding Consultant, World Health Organization on Public health communication and behaviour change.
- Prof Lisa Amir, GP/IBCLC, Judith Lumley Centre, La Trobe University on COVID-19 vaccination and breastfeeding: What do we know so far?
- Naomi Hull RN, IBCLC, MPH, Senior Manager Breastfeeding Information and Research, Australian Breastfeeding Association, talking about ABA’s response to the pandemic.
The panel was hosted by MC Dr Nisha Khot, one of Victoria’s leading obstetricians.
The general thought was that the benefits of vaccination of breastfeeding women outweighs the risks.
At the time of the panel event, Australian Government Department of Health guidance regarding COVID-19 vaccination for breastfeeding mothers remained unclear, however has since been updated to recommend breastfeeding women can receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination at any time, and do not need to stop breastfeeding before or after the vaccination.
There needs to be advocacy on inclusion of women in medical trials
It seems that Breastfeeding women were specifically excluded from the COVID-19 vaccine trials and therefore there is no data about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines on breastfeeding women and their babies.
There needs to be a cultural shift that includes pregnant and breastfeeding women in clinical vaccine trials. Women need to be protected by research, not protected from research.Without specific research, disproportionate responsibility is put on breastfeeding women to weigh the risks of being vaccinated against the risks of not being vaccinated. In the absence of data from vaccine trials, mothers are being told it is their choice whether they get vaccinated or not.
It is felt that Leaving the decision making up to the mother ‘sounds like it is respecting a woman’s autonomy [but] really what it’s doing is abandoning her to make a decision, to filter information that expert health authorities have found too difficult to process for themselves.
If you are looking for Breastfeeding support, please call 1800 686 268