We understand that this time has brought a new set of challenges to breastfeeding moms. Bringing a baby into the world is a time full of emotions, but now you might be wondering, ‘What if I get COVID-19?’
Here’s what you should know about breastfeeding during COVID-19 – what you should do if you are infected and what you can do to prevent the spread to your baby while still breastfeeding.
Can I breastfeed if I have COVID-19?
The answer is simple – yes!
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, it is safe to breastfeed. Breastfeeding helps keep babies healthy by providing immune-boosting properties unique to mom and baby. Breastfeeding moms also produce the hormone oxytocin, which reduces anxiety and promotes rest.
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly supports breastfeeding during a COVID-19 infection if safety measures are being taken.
What safety measures should be taken if I have COVID-19?
Moms with a COVID-19 infection should keep a reasonable distance from their babies when possible. They should also use a mask and proper hand hygiene when caring for baby until they:
- Have been fever-free for 24 hours without use of fever medications (acetaminophen or ibuprofen);
- Are at least 10 days past when symptoms first appeared (or, in the case of asymptomatic women identified only by screening tests, at least 10 days have passed since the positive test result), and symptoms have improved.
This means that breastfeeding moms should wear a mask when caring for their babies and pumping or handling breast milk until the above safety measures are met.
If I test positive for COVID-19 in the hospital, will I be separated from my baby?
At AAMC, no. You will not be separated from your baby. The early postpartum period is crucial for establishing breastfeeding. Studies have shown that if moms are able to practice skin–to–skin and feed their babies often, they are more likely to meet their breastfeeding goals.
Can breast milk protect my baby from COVID-19?
We are learning more about COVID-19 every day, but what we do know is that when a mom’s immune system is triggered by a virus, it will start producing antibodies that the baby needs through breast milk. Keep in mind that breast milk constantly changes depending on the needs of that particular baby.
And as always, if you have questions about breastfeeding, don’t hesitate to reach out to your lactation consultant or provider for help.