Healthwise Maui

Q: Is it safe for pregnant women to get vaccinated for COVID-19? What if you’re breastfeeding?

Dr. Jennifer Mathieu, OB/GYN, Maui Lani Physicians & Surgeons: The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention both say that pregnant women may be vaccinated for COVID-19. They also say it is safe for breastfeeding mothers to get the COVID-19 vaccine and continue to breastfeed after being vaccinated.

It’s important to know that while large studies have found no safety problems with the vaccines currently available, neither was tested in pregnant women. However, the type of vaccine being used against COVID-19 is generally known to be safe, and animal studies found no harmful effects on pregnancy.

What scientists do know is that pregnant women are at higher risk of severe and potentially life-threatening complications from COVID-19.

If you’re pregnant, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Your doctor should know your health history, and any previous reactions to vaccines or other allergies and sensitivities. They also know all about your pregnancy and any other risks you would need to be aware of. It is important that you do your own research using reliable sources, ask a lot of questions and share your concerns with your doctor.

Whatever you decide, it is still very important to continue taking steps to protect yourself and those around you. This includes the five W’s — wear a mask, watch your distance and gathering size, wash your hands, wipe down and disinfect surfaces and lastly, wellness — stay home if you are not feeling well!

Q: I heard that insomnia is linked to heart disease. Is that true?

Kimble Poon, MD, Cardiology, Kaiser Permanente Hawaii: Yes. Insomnia is actually considered a risk factor for a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and heart disease. This might be because lack of sleep can trigger a stress response in the body and can interfere with some of the body’s natural processes, such as regulating blood pressure.

There are many causes of insomnia, including stress, depression, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, alcohol and some medications. If you frequently have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, talk with your doctor to rule out any of these issues.

Other ways you can help yourself get better sleep include practicing good “sleep hygiene” by going to bed at the same time every night and avoiding your phone and other devices when you’re in bed. Getting exercise during the day also helps you sleep better at night.

Finally, remember that insomnia can actually be a symptom of undiagnosed heart disease. Heart disease can make it difficult to sleep, because it may cause shortness of breath when you lie down, and chest pain may wake you up at night. So, talk to your doctor about any sleep problems you may be having, along with other symptoms.

* Physicians, providers and administrative staff who practice at Maui Health System hospitals and clinics answer questions from the public in “Healthwise Maui.” Maui Health System operates Maui Memorial Medical Center, Maui Memorial Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, Kula Hospital & Clinic and Lana’i Community Hospital and accepts all patients. To submit a question, go to the website at mauihealth.org/healthwise.


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