Breastfeeding and COVID-19
Here’s what you need to know about coronavirus as a breastfeeding mom
During these tough times, we want to be there for you, Mom. We’ve compiled the most important information from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine’s official statement from March 10, 2020, the International Lactation Consultant Association and other recent sources regarding breastfeeding and COVID-19. We also encourage you to stay up to date on the latest health recommendations concerning the novel coronavirus from the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, as new information about COVID-19 emerges daily. Here’s what we do know so far about breastfeeding and COVID-19.
The Academy of Breastfeeding as well as the International Lactation Consultant Association, World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control all currently agree that mothers with COVID-19 can continue breastfeeding. However, any mom who is COVID-19 positive or who has been exposed to an infected person should interact with her baby only for the necessary nursing time in order to lower the risk of exposure. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and the World Health Organization both state that mom should also take all possible measures to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including washing her hands thoroughly, avoiding coughing or sneezing while around her baby, cleaning all high-touch surfaces throughout the room and wearing a face mask while she nurses or during other periods of close contact. When pumping, mom should also take extra care in sterilizing breast pump parts. In situations where mom is too ill to breastfeed directly, she should be encouraged and supported to safely express breast milk and provide it to her baby.
Transmitting COVID-19 Through Breast Milk
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine notes that so far limited studies have shown no signs of the virus in breast milk. We know that breast milk has short-term and long-lasting health benefits for both mom and baby, including helping protect from disease. In fact, the World Health Organization says that “breastfeeding protects against death and morbidity” throughout infancy and childhood, and this protective effect is particularly strong against infectious diseases.
Newborns and COVID-19
According to the World Health Organization and the International Lactation Consultant Association, few infants so far have been infected with COVID-19 and those who have experienced only mild symptoms. Mom and baby should be permitted to remain together even if either has been exposed to or tested positive for coronavirus. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine suggests that separating a mother from her newborn may be considered in some cases based on the Centers for Disease Control guidelines. However, this decision must be made on a case-to-case basis and with the input of healthcare professionals as well as the mom and her family.
Maintaining Milk Production
The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommends that moms with COVID-19 receive additional guidance and support to continue breastfeeding, utilizing expressed breast milk, maintaining milk production and storing milk for later. Don’t be afraid to reach out to medical professionals or trusted, healthy adults in your life for extra assistance in this aspect of your breastfeeding journey. If you need some tips, check out our guide to safely storing breast milk.