The good news is that COVID-19 does not appear to live in or spread through breast milk. However, because there is so little information available about babies and their response to the coronavirus, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the CDC both recommend women who test positive for COVID and are actively breastfeeding their babies should adhere to the current quarantine policies to keep their babies safe.
If you are a new mother and you test positive for coronavirus, contact your OB/GYN ASAP and use their TeleHealth platform to connect, share, and receive up-to-date information about how to best take care of yourself, your baby, and your family.
I’m Breastfeeding With COVID-19: What Does This Mean For Me?
We are so sorry. As heartbreaking as it is to physically separate from your newborn or infant, it is what must be done to protect his/her health. We simply do not know all of the risk factors for babies who contract COVID-19 and their health is a priority.
This is a devastating thing to have to act on in an already challenging time, but your diligence and pumping patience will ensure your baby remains nourished by the best options out there (your milk!), and that you have a steady supply when the two of you are reunited.
If you are in the immediate postpartum period, contact your OB/GYN for specific instructions. If your baby is two-months old or older, contact his/her pediatrician for further information.
You May Resume Normal Breastfeeding & Contact When…
- You have been fever free (without the help of medication or OTC fever reducers) for 72 hours or longer
- It has been at least seven days since your symptoms began
- You’ve had negative results from two separate COVID-19 tests, taken at least 24-hours apart
In the Meantime:
Make sure you have the emotional support you need
This is going to be tough, and we want to make sure you have all of the support you need. Keep the following posts bookmarked in case you find you need outside support to help you weather the storm:
- Coping With the Baby Blues
- Support Groups for Moms in KC (these groups are largely virtual now so you’ll have plenty of company and emotional support from mamas just like you!)
If possible, find a designated, COVID-free caregiver(s) for your baby
If possible, see if a parent, relative, or close friend can become the designated caregiver for your baby. That way, your child can receive all of that close, physical, loving connection s/he is used to – even if it’s not from the person s/he loves most.
Your caregiver should stay absolutely clear from your quarantine space (many COVID-patients remain in a master bedroom or exclusively occupy a single room and bathroom) but can safely live in your house so you are as close to the baby as possible and s/he can hear your voice.
Click Here to read instructions on how to quarantine safely at home with your family if you (or a family member) tests positive for the coronavirus.
Get a high-quality breast pump
If you don’t have one already, now’s the time to find a high-quality breast pump. Put the word out and odds are friends, family, or neighbors will be happy to give you one they don’t use anymore. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to start pumping.
Send all the love you can into that pump and the milk, and your baby will be so happy to have your smell, taste, and energy in his/her daily feedings. Read our post on the Best Methods for Breastmilk Storage if you’ve never pumped and stored milk before or if you need to refresh your memory.
Make sure you always wash your hands with warm soap and water, for at least 20-seconds, before touching the pump or the bottle.
- Click Here for instructions on how to sterilize/clean your breast pump kit
- Click Here for instructions on how to clean and sanitize bottles and other feeding accessories
Feed from the bottle
Direct breastfeeding while ill with COVID-19 may increase the risk of transmission to your newborn. If you are unable to find someone who can help, then the recommendation from the CDC and AAP is to feed your baby using a bottle while keeping as much physical distance as possible. You should always wear a mask if you are within six-feet of your infant or others.
If You Decide to Continue Breastfeeding
The studies show that wearing masks is a powerful way to prevent infected droplets from landing on your baby and surrounding surfaces. If you do have to breastfeed, or choose to do so, please wear your mask and wash your hands regularly while holding and nursing your baby.
Have questions about breastfeeding with COVID-19? Please reach out to us here at Women’s Health Associates and we will provide all the support we possibly can.