Breastfeeding and Coronavirus

There are many questions regarding coronavirus and the disease it causes — COVID-19. If you’re expecting a baby soon or if you’re currently nursing your baby, you might have specific questions about coronavirus and breastfeeding.

At Palm Valley Women's Care, we advocate for breastfeeding and all of its wonderful benefits. But we also know that there are times when breastfeeding isn’t necessarily recommended. That's why we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding breastfeeding during the coronavirus pandemic.

Can breast milk transmit COVID-19 to a baby?

No. According to the most recent data, coronavirus hasn’t been detected in breast milk. This means that even if you’re sick (and isolated from your baby), you can continue to pump your milk for a partner, other relative, or a nurse to feed your baby. 

Other similar viruses — including the one that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS-CoV) — aren’t transmitted through breast milk either. 

How can I safely pump breast milk for my baby? 

Because breast milk doesn’t transmit the coronavirus, it’s safe to pump milk for your baby. It’s essential to practice good hygiene to prevent spreading COVID-19 to others, and that includes during a pumping session. If you cough or sneeze while pumping, be sure to pause and wash any pump parts or skin that may have been contaminated.

Before pumping, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and hot water. You can also keep these tips in mind:

Whether you’re sick or not, always wash your hands before preparing the bottle or feeding your baby.

Should I give breast milk to my baby if the baby has COVID-19?

If your baby has COVID-19, it’s safe to continue to give breast milk. In fact, it may be one of the best things for your baby. Studies show that the composition of breast milk changes in response to a baby’s illness. Specifically, the white blood cell count in milk is increased — as a way for mother’s milk to help support the baby’s immune defense. 

What if I develop symptoms of COVID-19?

According to the experts at Johns Hopkins University, the decision to isolate from your baby isn’t clear-cut. This decision is based on many factors, including the health of the baby and the mother, and other key factors. If your baby is still well, and you opt to isolate, remember that you may continue to pump milk for your baby. 

If you elect to remain together, practice good hygiene, wear a mask, and always wash your hands before breastfeeding.

I’m due any day. What should I do?

Pregnant women should avoid sick individuals and follow social distancing guidelines. If you’re healthy and give birth, you may breastfeed your baby. If you test positive with coronavirus and give birth, it’s possible you may need to isolate from your baby at first.

Remember, even if you’re isolated from your baby, you can continue to hand-express or pump breast milk for your newborn. Colostrum, the first milk a mother makes for her baby, is rich in immune-boosting nutrients, which helps your baby fight off viruses and bacteria, according to studies

We’re here for you!

At Palm Valley Women's Care, it’s our mission to support you during the postpartum period as you establish breastfeeding with your new baby. In spite of the pandemic, we’re here to provide prenatal and postnatal care.

We’re located in Phoenix and Avondale, Arizona. If you have questions or concerns, please give us a call.

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