Coronavirus: What About Breastfeeding?
There was a lot of uncertainty about this early on, but it’s now apparent that COVID-positive mothers can (and do) breastfeed safely.
Evidence indicates that the coronavirus has not been detected in infected women’s breastmilk.
Note: studies are now underway to explore: 1) whether it’s possible to transmit COVID-19 through breastmilk (again, this has not been documented), and 2) whether breastmilk has any capacity to protect against COVID-19 (there’s some evidence suggesting that it might, especially among vaccinated mothers).
OB/GYNs are generally not seeing problems with infected babies, and the current consensus is that you can and should still breastfeed (or continue to) if that was/is your wish.
Health experts from every corner (ranging from individual health professionals to organizations like the CDC, the WHO, La Leche League, ACOG, the AAP, and the American Academy of Breastfeeding), are encouraging mothers with COVID-19 to continue (or start) breastfeeding.
**Since the primary mode of transmission is through breathing, these same groups also stress the need to take extra precautions — like washing your hands and wearing a mask — before/during nursing and pumping.
Indeed, experts say that the biggest “risk” when breastfeeding with COVID stems from the close proximity of nursing (or hygiene oversight with pumping and bottle feeding). IOW, breastmilk itself poses no evident risk, but snuggling up with a baby without the basic protections (i.e., PPE) could.
“Currently, the primary concern is not whether the virus can be transmitted through breastmilk, but rather whether an infected mother can transmit the virus through respiratory droplets during the period of breastfeeding.”~ The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
*Note: Major health organizations like ACOG, and The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine are saying that COVID vaccines should be offered to lactating individuals the same as anyone else… and that there is no reason to discontinue BF if you do get vaccinated. (There’s also emerging evidence that vaccination confers breastmilk antibodies against COVID.)
Our advice would be to talk to your doctor, follow your gut, and do what feels right for you, whatever that means… If you opt to pump and have a partner feed the baby, or use formula, don’t lose sleep over these decisions. Because at the end of the day,“fed is best” really does apply here.
See also: So You Have COVID — Now What?
Go forward with courage, you can do this!!!