Many mothers are understandably concerned about the impacts of COVID-19 on breastfeeding their babies. We’ve gathered together a selection of asked and answered questions from parents to help give you the information you need to protect your baby from infection in these unprecedented times.
COVID-19 Advice on Feeding Your Baby
If you breastfeed your baby but have symptoms – or a confirmed case – of COVID-19, breastfeeding advice from the CDC outlines three main steps to follow in order to avoid spreading the virus to your little one:
1) Before touching your baby wash your hands thoroughly.
2) If possible, wear a cloth face covering while breastfeeding your baby.
3) Wash your hands before you touch breast pumps or bottles and clean these items afterwards.
COVID-19 And Breastfeeding FAQs
Discover the answers to these frequently asked questions by mothers.
Is Breastfeeding and Expressing Milk Safe During COVID-19?
You might be worried about Breastfeeding your baby and/or pumping milk during the coronavirus pandemic, but there has been no evidence to date that the virus can be passed from mother to baby through breastmilk.
Can My Baby Continue Drinking Expressed Breast Milk If I Test Positive For COVID-19?
If you have tested positive for COVID-19 your baby can still receive your breast milk. Washing your hands and carefully cleaning your breast(s) before pumping your milk and feeding your baby is highly recommended, as is cleaning your breast pump thoroughly after each use.
If I Have COVID-19, Can I Stay in The Same Room with My Baby?
The CDC offer some practical advice. Early and close contact between mom and baby has many well-established benefits. The ideal setting for care of a healthy newborn while in hospital is in the mom’s room. Current evidence suggests the risk of a baby acquiring Covid-19 from its mother is low. Also, data suggests that there is no difference in risk of Covid-19 infection to the baby whether a baby is cared for in a separate room or remains in the mom’s room.
There is, however, a potential risk of Covid-19 transmission to the baby via contact with infectious respiratory secretions from the mother, caregiver, or other person with Covid-19 infection, including just before the individual develops symptoms when viral replication may be high. As such, all caregivers should practice infection prevention and control measures (i.e., wearing a mask, practicing hand hygiene) before and while caring for a baby.
Mom’s with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 infection may feel uncomfortable with this potential risk. Ideally, each mom and her healthcare providers should discuss whether she would like baby to be cared for in her room or a separate location if she is suspected or confirmed of having COVID-19, weighing the considerations listed below. It’s easiest to begin this conversation during prenatal care and continue it through labor and delivery.
Further reading here:
How Do I Maintain My Milk Supply If I Am Sick With COVID-19?
If you are sick with COVID-19, you can still maintain your milk supply by regularly expressing your breast milk. If you choose to continue breastfeeding then it is recommended that you follow profession healthcare advice, such as the CDC breastfeeding guidelines.
How Can I Protect My Baby From Contracting COVID-19?
The most efficient ways to protect against your baby contracting the COVID-19 virus is as follows:
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
Use hand sanitizer in addition to soap and water
Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
Keep surfaces clean, particularly ones your infant may touch
Make sure you cough or sneeze into a tissue or your sleeve if necessary
If I Get Coronavirus Should I Switch My Baby onto Formula?
At this point, health experts haven’t found COVID-19 to be present in human milk, which already contains antibodies to protect your baby’s health. Therefore, there is no need to switch to formula if you have contracted the virus. You can choose to express your milk with a breast pump, or if you continue breastfeeding then follow the recommended health advice to ensure optimal hygiene.
If I Have COVID-19 And Stopped Breastfeeding or Have Been Separated from My Baby, Can I Restart Breastfeeding?
If you took a break from breastfeeding because you contracted COVID-19, you can start to breastfeed again once you feel well enough to do so. There is no recommended time to wait before starting again, though it may take time and patience to re-lactate.