This year has been especially challenging for everyone with the outbreak of COVID-19. With a surge in cases right now, parents with babies born during the pandemic are more concerned than ever about the health and wellbeing of their children. When it comes to breastfeeding, you may be wondering if it’s safe to do so. The short answer is yes! You can start and continue to breastfeed during this time with some recommended safety measures.
COVID-19 is transmittable through close contact with an infected person when they cough, sneeze, or talk. Currently, the COVID-19 virus has NOT been detected in breastmilk. This tells us that breastfeeding can continue despite the rise of COVID-19 with many benefits to you and your child.
Benefits of breastfeeding during a pandemic
While there is not enough information available to know if breastmilk protects babies from COVID-19, we do know breastfeeding provides your baby with numerous protections against infectious diseases. It also releases the hormone oxytocin in mom’s body helping to relieve the excess stress and anxiety a pandemic can bring. Need another reason to breastfeed right now? It’s free and readily available – this is particularly helpful during a pandemic when so many are unable to safely work or make trips to the grocery store.
What to do if you have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19
In addition to the CDC guidelines, these steps will help you avoid spreading the virus to your baby:
Wash your hands before touching your baby
Wear a cloth face covering while feeding at the breast
Wash your hands before touching pump or bottle parts and clean all parts after each use
Connect with your pediatrician and a lactation specialist
Symptoms of COVID-19
If you or anyone in your home is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, contact your healthcare provider:
· Fever or chills
· Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
· Muscle or body aches
· New loss of taste or smell
· Sore throat
· Congestion or runny nose
· Nausea or vomiting
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Maintaining your supply while isolating
If you test positive for COVID-19, the current guidelines suggest isolating for a period of 10 days from the onset of symptoms. If you choose to isolate you can pump regularly to keep your supply up. Make sure you are washing your hands before handling any pump equipment and bottles and clean your pump according to the directions for your brand. Have a healthy caregiver feed your baby when possible, making sure they thoroughly wash their hands for at least 20 seconds before handling bottles.
For more information and guidance for multiple scenarios, visit the CDC website
Build your support team and have a plan in place for emergencies. Your support team can include:
· Friends and family
· Pediatrician & other healthcare providers
· Lactation consultant
· Postpartum doula
We can help you maintain your breastfeeding relationship safely as we now offer virtual support! You don’t have to go through these challenges alone, give us a call.