Researchers are continuing to test breast milk but to date, transmission of the virus through breast milk does not seem likely.
Breast milk continues to be the best source of nutrition for infants, and is considered one of the most important and beneficial choices you can make.
However; in light of the pandemic, scared mothers are trying to make decisions as to whether or not to breastfeed or discontinue breastfeeding over Covid-19 concerns.
NOTE: DISCUSSION PRIOR TO ANY CHANGES MADE SHOULD BE COMPLETELY REVIEWED WITH YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER
Can I still breastfeed if I am confirmed to have Covid-19?
First and foremost, you should be following all precautionary remediation measures, including extra cleaning and preventative measures if you are breastfeeding.
The individual circumstances of the mother, the home and the workplace must be taken into consideration when breastfeeding, and expression of breast milk if already returned to work. Efforts are ongoing to bring awareness to employers regarding a safe and hygienic space for milk expression.
If you have confirmed Covid-19 and are breastfeeding, for the duration of home quarantine and 14 days after, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that you consider your infant as suspected Covid-19.
It is imperative that you inform your healthcare providers of high-risk contact with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 persons.
Do not discontinue sick or wellness visits for your infants. Your physician’s office is working around the pandemic in order to provide critical and necessary care. Communicate your concerns, and they will work to accommodate you and your child, while still providing necessary care.
Keep in mind that data is not complete, and the CDC will continue updating information and guidelines as the situation dictates.
If you are Covid positive and breastfeeding, be sure to wear a mask, disinfecting your hands before and after touching your baby, as well as any surfaces you have touched. Although it is unlikely to transmit the virus through breast milk, the virus can still be transmitted through viral droplets released from your mouth or nose.
You do not need to wash your breast prior to or after breastfeeding UNLESS you coughed while breastfeeding.
NOTE: IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, HAVE A NON-INFECTED PERSON FEED THE BABY.
If you are Covid-19 positive and feel too sick to breastfeed, contact your pediatrician immediately to discuss alternate options to keep your baby nourished and healthy.
Do not discontinue breastfeeding if your child should become sick. It is very important to continue nourishment for your child, as well as continuing to build the antibodies necessary to support your child’s immune system.
The pandemic has brought uncertainty and trepidation to parents and expectant parents all over. With the limited amount of data available, it is very difficult to know if you are doing the right thing.
By the way, that feeling never changes. It is just more to the forefront in light of this pandemic.
Breastfeeding not only benefits the infant, but also provides protection for the mother.
By breastfeeding, a mother reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, breast cancer and heart disease.
One of the main purposes of National Breastfeeding Month, is to provide support to women to be able to breastfeed anytime, anywhere.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has handled epidemics and pandemics throughout the world for quite some time and as such, is a terrific resource at this uncertain time. They have given advice on breastfeeding during a crisis before. Their experience in this area can help us navigate this outbreak, and assist us in moving forward in the safest manner possible.
Another wonderful resource is the American Society for Nutrition. They have compiled a group of articles from leading journals on the benefits of breastfeeding.
Here is a link to their site and their additional articles: Nutrition.org
Be safe. Be proactive.
Editor’s note: Many physicians believe that many people that are breastfeeding quit too soon. Always discuss the benefits and consequences of early discontinuation with your treating physician.