The outbreak of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has everyone feeling a bit worried right now. As a pregnant mom or the mom of an infant, you might be wondering whether it’s still safe to breastfeed. The quick and easy answer is yes. But there are more details you need to know.
Whether you’ve tested positive for the virus or are just worried about it, it’s safe in both instances to breastfeed your baby. However, the specifics vary a bit. Dr. Alan Patterson shares the facts about breastfeeding and coronavirus.
Why breastfeeding is so important
Breast milk is the healthiest option for babies whenever possible. Mother’s milk, particularly the first milk called colostrum, provides antibodies to give your baby passive immunity. This helps them stay healthy until they’re old enough to receive their vaccines.
In addition to the immunity benefits, your breast milk is perfectly tailored to your baby’s nutritional needs. Breastfeeding is also a great source of comfort for babies and can help you to really bond.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for babies younger than six months.
What to do about coronavirus
COVID-19 is particularly concerning because nobody has immunity to it, and a vaccine isn’t yet available. However, breastfeeding doesn’t put your child at risk for contracting COVID-19 in any way. Although it has not been officially studied yet, it makes sense that continuing to breastfeed may have a protective effect for your baby.
You should still take the regular precautions to prevent either you or your baby from catching COVID-19. These precautions include regularly washing your hands, wearing a mask when you’re near other people who don’t live in your household, and avoiding crowded public spaces as much as possible. However, masks aren’t recommended for children under age two.
If you test positive
Every mom of a new baby worries about their health and that of their baby. There are few things scarier right now than the thought of either of you catching COVID-19. But if it does happen, know that breastfeeding during your illness is still OK and might even provide some immunity to your baby. The limited data that’s available suggests that the virus is probably not passed from mother to baby in breast milk. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that you may want to wear a mask while nursing your baby while you have COVID-19.
If you have to be isolated from your baby until you recover from the illness, know that you can still continue to breastfeed. In this instance, you would need to pump your milk to be bottle fed to your baby. Know that this period in the overall scheme of things will not have a negative effect on your bonding with your baby or your ability to continue breastfeeding once you recover. As always, make sure that you thoroughly wash your hands before pumping your breast milk.
Other precautions to take during COVID-19
A new baby is a source of joy and excitement for your family and friends. However, you may notice that right from birth, you’re discouraged from having too many visitors. Most hospitals are only allowing one visitor to be with you during birth, whether it’s your partner or a trusted loved one.
After birth, the same protocol still applies. The visits from grandparents and friends will have to be placed on hold until the virus risk blows over. Of course, anyone who visits after this time will need to thoroughly wash their hands before holding your baby.
This COVID-19 pandemic is a stressful time for all of us. But take comfort in the fact that it shouldn’t affect your plans to breastfeed. If you would like more information or further reassurance, contact our office today.
1. We are still seeing obstetrics patients in our office to ensure that our pregnant patients are getting the care they need. If you’re pregnant, please call us to book your appointment today. We are also seeing patients in our office that are having gynecological problems or gynecological emergencies.
2. Here's what we're doing to ensure the safety of our patients who come into the office for their appointments:
- We’re ensuring that patients are not experiencing respiratory issues when they visit our office.
- We are sanitizing all services on a regular basis.
- We’re wearing masks and gloves to reduce the probability of virus transmission.
- We are washing our hands for 20 seconds after every interaction we have, inside and outside of the office.
Patients may not be accompanied by other people at their appointments.
3. We are offering Telemedicine appointments for the following conditions: yeast infections, urinary tract infections, birth control consults, vaginal infections, hormone replacement therapy consults, perimenopause, menopause, amenorrhea, and abnormal periods. Please call us to determine if your need for services qualifies for a telemedicine appointment.