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Everything You Need to Know About Breastfeeding During the Coronavirus

Everything You Need to Know About Breastfeeding During the Coronavirus

In short, it is safe to breastfeed during the coronavirus—as long as you do it the right way.


New and expectant mothers certainly have their hands full when it comes to making decisions about their baby. That’s why support is of the utmost importance for a new mother, especially when it comes to feeding her baby. While there aren’t many things more natural than breastfeeding, it can sometimes be a challenge and perhaps a scary thing for new moms, especially now in the age of the coronavirus. If you decide that breastfeeding is right for you and your baby, support groups like Allied Breastfeeding Support offer new and expectant moms all the help they need when it comes to questions or concerns about breastfeeding. Allied is committed to helping mothers achieve their breastfeeding goals with certified lactation consultants and doctors available day and night As a way to offer our support to all of the breastfeeding mamas out there, we answered some of your questions about breastfeeding in the age of coronavirus:

Is it safe to breastfeed during coronavirus?

The short answer for healthy moms is yes, it’s safe to breastfeed. In fact, even a new mom infected with or at high risk for COVID19 can safely breastfeed her baby, according to the CDC, if she takes the right precautions. She should wear a mask and wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a 60%-alcohol-based sanitizer before each feeding. Any risk of infection is via respiratory contact, not breastmilk.  It’s a confusing time to be postpartum.

Can coronavirus spread through breastmilk?

Most experts agree, despite limited research, that Covid19 is not likely transmitted through breastmilk, according to David Clark, a legal specialist with the nutrition section at UNICEF. Instead it spreads mainly through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks, and no additional data has suggested that the disease can pass through breastmilk. Also, breastfeeding has been shown to be safe when a mom has other illnesses like the flu. Even a new mom infected with or at high risk for COVID19 can safely breastfeed her baby, according to the CDC, if she takes the right precautions. She should wear a mask and wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a 60%-alcohol-based sanitizer before each feeding. Any risk of infection is via respiratory contact, not breastmilk. 

Some infected mothers may want to pump their breast milk, which prevents close contact with the newborn. The AAP, in its guidelines, directs mothers who are actively COVID-19 positive to pump unless the mother has been without a fever for at least 72 hours; has not been using pain relievers and has waited seven days after the start of COVID-19 symptoms.

Moms who pump should use the same pump every time, and never share it with another person. Also they should wear a mask and wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before touching any pump or bottle parts. The CDC also offers recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use. Cleaning the breast prior to breastfeeding or disinfecting bottles and milk bags are additional steps to reduce potential transmission. And if possible, a healthy caregiver who does not have COVID-19 and is not at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19, should feed the expressed milk to the newborn.  

A mother who works in a high-risk place, such as a healthcare facility, should first discuss breastfeeding with her doctor. And if mom has to feed or pump at work, the CDC offers tips on disinfecting facilities, such as workplace lactation rooms. Finally, infected moms who need help with lactation should consider telehealth appointments or be counseled by a PPE-wearing expert or doctor when there are no other patients in the office. 

Breastfeeding Reduces Health Risks

Lactation Consultant Jeanne Rosser, who is part of the Allied team says, “Research has shown that women who surround themselves with supportive people and community support are more successful in attaining their breastfeeding goals.” And of course there are many benefits to breastfeeding, both for mom and baby. Rosser says that babies who are not breastfed are at risk for an, “increase in ear infections, upper respiratory infections, childhood obesity, and diabetes.” And there are risks for mom, too including, an “increased risk of osteoporosis for not breastfeeding and increased number of urinary tract infections. Breastfeeding helps moms with their rates of breast cancer and uterine cancer.” It is also a great bonding experience for mom and baby and moms who breastfeed often find the most convenient way to nourish their child.

Getting Through Those First Months

If you have made the decision to breastfeed, that’s great, but once the baby arrives mothers are often met with challenges. Milk that is slow to come in or a baby that is having trouble latching are things that can deter mom from continuing to try to breastfeed. If you want to know if your baby is getting enough milk or if you are holding the baby the right way, Allied Breastfeeding Support can offer expert information to help you get through those first few months. Rosser says, “Those mothers who struggle in the early months and just feel like giving up will turn to one of our support groups or see one of our lactation consultants or one of our breastfeeding medicine doctors, and we help them get over those rough patches.” For so many mothers, those first few months where everything is new and perhaps difficult is when support is needed the most. Rosser says that if moms reach out and get the support they need during those times, then they are much more likely to reach their breastfeeding goals.

Help With Breastfeeding is Available

The professionals at Allied Breastfeeding Support are a team of doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, RNs, and most importantly, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLCs). All of the breastfeeding supporters have credentials and a wide range of support is offered. It’s important for mothers to be met where they are, so if that’s exclusively breastfeeding, combining bottle-feeding with breastfeeding, or partial breastfeeding, moms are helped to define what their goals are and then they are supported to meet those goals. Consultations can be done over the phone to help with simple questions. There is also in-person support groups for moms looking to connect with other moms.

When a mom or family calls in for support they are given Dr. Lauren Macaluso, who runs a private medical specialty practice exclusively dedicated to mothers who are breastfeeding and their babies. Dr. Macaluso says, “When a mom comes in with a breastfeeding problem or concern I take a full medical history in order to delineate where the problem is coming from. And educate and treat and spend time with them to help maximize their ability to breastfeed.”

Dr. Macaluso explains that, “There are many barriers for new moms who are breastfeeding. Many moms live away from extended family, so they don’t get a lot of family support or they are pushed back into the workplace too soon after giving birth. There are a lot of stressors out there making it difficult to breastfeed.” These stressors can be mitigated when a mom feels supported.

With new information on the benefits of breastfeeding coming out all the time, places like Allied Breastfeeding Support help take the stress out of breastfeeding so moms have one less thing to worry about.

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