Manufactured using fetal tissue; a cause of miscarriage and infertility; and downright unsafe for pregnant and lactating women–a whole bunch of myths such as these have shrouded Covid-19 vaccines in mistrust among expecting and breastfeeding moms, especially since their concern is not just for themselves, but for their babies as well. These myths, however, have recently been busted by a pediatric expert at the recent Mother and Child Nurses Association of the Philippines’ (MCNAP) Breastfeeding Summit in partnership with Johnson & Johnson (Philippines) Inc., who confidently assured moms: Getting a Covid-19 vaccine is a surefire way to protect you and your babies from getting severely ill because of the coronavirus.
As one of the summit’s main speakers, Dr. Anthony Calibo, pediatrician, breastfeeding expert, and early childhood health and development specialist, addressed eight common myths surrounding the safety of Covid-19 vaccines for pregnant and lactating women, and reiterated facts that have put these myths to rest. One such alarming myth Calibo cited is that Covid-19 vaccines could cause infertility or miscarriage.
“[The fact is that] it is recommended that you get a Covid-19 vaccine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding; trying to get pregnant; and might get pregnant in the future,” Dr. Calibo said, and further assured summit participants that vaccines do not contain any fetal tissue.
Specifically focusing on breastfeeding, Dr. Calibo added that, based on a systematic review of medical studies surrounding the topic of Covid-19 vaccines’ effects, a significant number of women saw an increase in the amount of antibodies in their breast milk after vaccination. Moreover, getting their jab also induced the spike of CD4 + T cells in their milk–the cells responsible for the protection of babies’ upper respiratory tract.
“The CD4 + T cells give us the scientific basis why it is important to exclusively breastfeed during the first six months [of your baby’s life,” says Dr. Calibo.
“Breastfeeding is a beautiful process that also creates an intimate relationship between a mother and baby. Touch is very important in the process of breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin contact is linked to more positive interaction between the mother and child,” added Dr. Joey Salazar, neonatologist and a professor of pediatrics. “Most importantly, one of the many benefits of breastfeeding include development of a strong immune system.”
The summit, held during National Breastfeeding Month last August, highlighted why breastfeeding is highly relevant especially during a pandemic, when immunity should be strengthened. Summit participants included, aside from pregnant and breastfeeding moms and their families, maternal and child nurses, partner clinical associates (OB Gynecologists, Pediatricians, Midwives, Lactation Consultants and Nursing Students) and breastfeeding peer groups.
“We are partners in this educational experience, which was opened to the public because our aim is not just to educate our care providers, but to reach out to the vast majority to collaborate for best practices in terms of our care for both the mother and child,” says Crismer Tiria, associate marketing director. “Together with our partners like MCNAP, we hope to educate more moms on how to properly take care of their babies and newborns.”