A new mom shares why she got the COVID-19 vaccine
As a new or expecting parent, you want to do all you can to protect yourself and your little one. It’s part of what makes pregnancy and childbirth stressful, even in ordinary times. Going through a pregnancy during a pandemic can be even scarier.
“I wanted to conceive again and found there was a lot of misinformation circling online about infertility.”
Medical organizations like the CDC, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine all recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for people who are pregnant or are planning to be. Yet only about 32 percent of pregnant people ages 18 to 49 in the U.S. are fully vaccinated — despite cases rising.
As a new or expecting parent, vaccine misinformation can be hard to overcome — even with the guidance of trusted medical groups. Sometimes, it takes hearing it from someone who’s been through it, firsthand.
Meet Hannah Coburn: a proud new mom who works as a labor and delivery nurse in Spokane. Hannah got vaccinated while she was nursing — months after giving birth.
Thanks for speaking with us, Hannah. Let’s dive right in. What made you decide to get the vaccine as a new mother?
There are so many factors that went into my decision. Primarily, I was concerned about keeping myself and my family safe.
As a parent, you want to do everything you can to keep your kid safe. There are so many big, bad scary things in this world that you have no control over; and no way to protect your kid from. COVID-19 was one big, bad scary thing that I could take a definitive step to protect her from.
Did your job as a labor and delivery nurse impact your decision?
As a health care provider, I have a responsibility to protect my patients. Part of protecting my patients is getting vaccinated against vaccine preventable illnesses so I don’t get my patients sick.
And I don’t believe you can encourage someone to do something you’re not willing to do yourself. If I could say I wholeheartedly got the vaccine as a new mother nursing her baby, it could help make other moms feel comfortable.
Did you have any hesitations about getting the vaccine?
I was nervous. I wanted to conceive again and found there was a lot of misinformation circling online about infertility. But then when you actually read the articles, you find out that the data provided is either misleading or false information. There’s no evidence to support it.
The more research I did from trusted sources, the more I felt assured. I learned how long these types of vaccines have actually been researched for. And I learned there was no evidence to support infertility.
And thankfully, I have a physician I really trust. I was able to approach him with my questions, without being made to feel bad for questioning something new. Talking with him candidly helped me feel confident in my decision.
Did anything else impact your decision?
I was concerned about potential vaccine side effects while caring for my daughter. But then I thought, ‘if I’m so worried about side effects for one day, how would that compare to my ability to care from my kid if I actually got COVID-19?’ Even a moderate case of COVID-19 could take me out for weeks or months. I couldn’t risk getting that sick. I’d much rather deal with mild vaccine side effects than any of the [major] effects of COVID-19.
How was your experience breast feeding after getting vaccinated? Did anything change?
I wanted to be able to give my daughter [who was nine months old at the time] the antibodies. Knowing it would be a long time until she could get vaccinated, it was a weight lifted off of my shoulders.
I actually love the science of it. I pumped my milk after my vaccination and compared it and saw a color change — which is normal.
There’s so much science about why your body does what it does. My body was triggered by my own immune response and knows to protect my baby.
I’m eligible for a vaccine booster and I’m excited to get it, as it will just be another way to give her more antibodies to protect her.
What’s your advice for other pregnant or nursing people who are deciding on whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
I 100% recommend it — I encourage it for all my patients. It’s so hard for me to see people who are scared to get it because of misinformation.
As a labor and delivery nurse, I saw some very sick moms with COVID-19 — we unfortunately had a couple deaths. I’ve been doing my job for a decade and have only known of three patient deaths. Two of those were in the last year with COVID-19.
The vaccine is a way to make sure COVID-19 doesn’t stand in the way of going home with your baby; and that you and your baby are both safe from COVID-19. It’s so important, especially with variants like delta, which are more common in babies and kids than past variants.
When you’re pregnant — you want to make your baby as healthy as possible. You don’t eat raw fish, you don’t drink as much coffee, you cut out alcohol, the list goes on. Getting a vaccine for something that is a vaccine preventable illness is something you can do to protect your baby, and to give your baby a better chance at a healthy start.
What about people who are planning to become pregnant who might be concerned about fertility?
I’m seeing lots of patients come into the hospital with healthy pregnancies and beautiful babies. These are patients who got the vaccine right at the beginning of the year, before they conceived.
Personally, I would love to have another baby. I’m still going to get my booster. I don’t want to be sick from COVID-19. I want to be there for my kid and for future kids.
What should you do if you still have questions?
Have an open and honest conversation with a provider. It’s OK to question science. It’s OK to question something you don’t know. It’s part of your responsibility as a parent.
Share your concerns and any questions you may have. Know that your provider is not trying to sell you something. It’s not a scheme. Their only motive is to keep you and your baby safe.
Our hospital has not had a single pregnant person who has had an adverse outcome from the vaccine. We have had a lot of pregnant people who have had adverse outcomes from getting COVID.