COVID-19 and Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding provides many nutritional and immunological benefits to mothers and babies, including the components of breast milk that directly protect babies against viruses and illnesses. In the early years of life, breastfeeding is the main source of passive and active immunity. As the U.S. continues to battle the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you may have questions about starting or continuing breastfeeding, if you are diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. In the midst of a global pandemic, it is especially important to continue to breastfeed. CDC, WHO, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other health organizations support mothers who are diagnosed with COVID-19 in initiating and continuing breastfeeding.

 

This resource provides a summary of the latest research and recommendations for breastfeeding mothers and links to additional resources.

 

Summary of Research on COVID-19 and Breastfeeding

What does the research say? Well, the novel coronavirus is new and research is limited. At this point, live fragments of the novel coronavirus have not been detected in breast milk and transmission of the virus through breast milk has not been detected to date. Again, breast milk is the best source of infant nutrition and there is no reason to avoid or stop breastfeeding, if diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Recommendations for Preventing Transmission of COVID-19 while Breastfeeding

If you test positive for COVID-19 or have symptoms and a suspected case, CDC outlines several steps you should take to prevent transmission while breastfeeding, including:

  • Wash your hands before touching your baby

  • Wear a cloth face covering, if possible, while feeding at the breast

  • Wash your hands before touching pump or bottle parts and clean all parts after each use

If you become too sick to feed your baby from your breasts, you can hand express or pump your milk to still provide breast milk. For mothers delivering in hospitals, the latest guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics supports rooming-in with infants among mothers who test positive for COVID-19. Rooming in, with proper infection control measures, has not been found to pose any greater transmission risk than separating mothers and their infants into different rooms. Rooming in, on the other hand, is a critical practice in helping you to establish breastfeeding.

©2020 by Black Girls' Breastfeeding Club, LLC.