During the pregnancy journy as expectant mothers feel their bodies change, maternal instincts kick in. It’s why mothers can determine which infant cry means it’s time for a diaper change and which means something is wrong. It’s why mothers protect and provide the best comfort and care possible for their babies.
But vaccinating infants can be a little tough. While the process may cause temporary pain, they protect infants from deadly diseases. Mothers don’t want to see their babies distressed but want to provide what they believe is best is for them.
Breastfeeding And Reducing Vaccination Pain
Even though needles are a source of anxiety and fear in adults and caregivers they are necessary for providing shots, and vaccinations in infants. While needles can’t be avoided, their pain might be able to be reduced with breastfeeding.
Ten studies examining babies under one year of age found that vaccination pain was reduced in breastfed infants. The amount of time babies spent crying after being vaccinated was used to measure the amount of pain they experienced. Breastfeeding was also compared to lying babies flat and giving them water or sweet solutions to calm them instead.
1066 infants were involved in the studies and on average breastfed babies cried for an average of 38 seconds less than babies who were not breastfed. None of these studies reported any harm while breastfeeding healthy babies during vaccinations.
Breastfeeding may be able to reduce pain because it provides oxytocin to babies. Oxytocin is a hormone associated with calmness, pain reduction, and a sense of well being. Furthermore, oxytocin can reduce stress, helping to increase relaxation. When someone is relaxed their sensation of pain is decreased.
The comfort of skin to skin contact and the cooing, calming sensations provided during feedings may also help to relax babies and reduce pain.
Additionally, other studies suggest that breastfeeding helps to reduce pain with other procedures as well. When the heels of infants were pricked, the breastfed group showed the lowest rates of pain in terms of steady heart rates and oxygen saturation.
What To Expect During Infant Vaccinations
Having your child vaccinated is a personal choice, it is recommended for the health and safety of your child and others against a variety of illnesses, including ones with no cures such as the measles, mumps, and polio.
Vaccines do contain parts of the diseases such as whooping cough that they protect your baby from, but they do not cause the disease. Formaldehyde is included to kill the virus, along with naturally occurring ingredients such as aluminum to help provide immunity, prolong the lifespan of the vaccine, and for production.
Immunizations help your child make antibodies to fight off the disease, so if your baby comes into contact with the real illness their body will recognize it and have the right tools to stop it.
Be aware that babies will have mild reactions to vaccines, but these reactions should not be a cause for concern. They simply mean that the vaccine is working.
After getting immunized your child may experience:
- General fussiness.
- Temporary loss of appetite.
- A low-grade fever.
- Redness, tenderness, or swelling at the injection site.
- Difficulty sleeping.
These vaccine side effects should go away in just a few days.
When You Need To Call The Doctor
It’s important to pay extra close attention to your baby after vaccinations for any unusual signs in case they experience an allergic or adverse reaction.
Call your doctor when your baby experiences:
- A mood or behavior change.
- High fever.
- Breathing issues such as wheezing.
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Swelling around the face or throat.
- Prolonged crying that lasts 3 hours or longer.
How To Soothe Your Baby
We know that you don’t want to see your little bundle of joy experiencing any distress, so after their vaccinations, you can help calm them by:
- Breastfeeding of course.
- Giving them something to suckle on, like a pacifier or bottle.
- Swaddling them before the vaccination.
- Give them sweet water.
- Distract them with a toy or game.
- Making soothing shushing and cooing noises in their ear.
- Massaging or applying gentle pressure around the inject sire beforehand.
- Giving them acetaminophen or ibuprofen (if your doctor okays it).
- Providing praise or a reward afterward.
- Make sure you remain calm as anxiety can spread.
Remember that the pain caused by vaccines or shots is only temporary and will prevent your baby from contracting serious diseases such as polio, hepatitis B, rotavirus, and much more for years. Plus, by breastfeeding and calming your child you can help reduce the amount of pain they experience.