Breastfeeding During the Covid-19 Pandemic
It’s a wild time to be a parent right now. There is so much confusing information about what we can and can’t do when feeding our babies. It feels like the more we read, the more we study, the more questions we have. So, here goes my best attempt to add more answers to the conversation when it comes to breastfeeding during a pandemic.
If I would get COVID-19, can I breastfeed?
Yes! But, practice good hygiene. I’ll discuss that later.
Can my baby get COVID from breast milk?
The research that we have says no. Several studies have looked at breast milk samples from women who were COVID positive, most milk samples showed no traces of the virus. However, in a few samples viral particles were identified BUT when researchers tried to replicate that bit of virus they could not, meaning it wasn’t active, so it can’t infect your baby. Nurse on mama.
Here’s that study if you want to see it for yourself https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2769825?utm_campaign=articlePDF&utm_medium=articlePDFlink&utm_source=articlePDF&utm_content=jama.2020.15580
Someone told me to pump and dump just to be safe. Is that a good plan?
Pumping and dumping- though catchy as the phrase is- isn’t necessary and in fact could leave your baby missing out on the antibodies your body is making for her.
Antibodies have been found in the breast milk of women who tested positive for COVID-19. These antibodies have not been well studied so we don’t completely understand how much protection they might offer but it is exciting, nonetheless, and it makes sense. We know the body secretes antibodies in response to other viruses’ moms are exposed to. Breast milk is complex and full of substances that prevent illness. So cool.
So I should just breastfeed as normal. That’s it?
Well don’t forget the mantras of this pandemic. Wash your hands, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, wash your hands! Before and after breastfeeding, before and after using your pump or preparing a bottle. If you test positive for COVID-19 wear a mask to prevent spreading the virus via respiratory droplets to your baby and others.
Can I still do skin to skin?
Yes! Skin-to-skin contact is a fabulous way to get breastfeeding off to a good start. It helps a baby feel safe while also regulating her temperature and blood sugar. If you test COVID positive, wear a mask during your snuggle sesh.
Check out what the World Health Organization has to say about this here
What if my baby needs supplementation, should I avoid donor breast milk?
Donor breast milk continues to be a great option for families needing to supplement their baby, even during a pandemic and here’s why. First and foremost, the evidence we have does not suggest the virus is transmitted through breast milk. Additionally, a recent study found that pasteurization was effective in eliminating the virus when live virus was added by researchers to expressed breast milk. Donor breast milk from milk banks, like the milk available at Hoey Apothecary in Madison, is pasteurized.
What if I need lactation support?
So glad you asked. At the Madison Midwives we continue to offer in person lactation visits. We have a special Lactating appointment room with soft lighting, a comfortable glider, and an infant scale so we can take our time to help you discover the best way to make this work for you and your baby. We are also happy to connect via scheduled tele-visits. We love meeting new mothers and mother’s to be. We welcome new patients every day!