As you probably know, breast milk helps protect babies from many sicknesses. Breast milk may even help protect babies from getting infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
If you have been diagnosed with COVID19, you may continue to breastfeed your baby according to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Currently, there is no evidence COVID19 is transmitted through your breastmilk and there is limited evidence that your breastmilk likely contains antibodies. Antibodies may help protect your baby from getting COVID19 or may lessen the severity.
Based on the current evidence, we strongly support breastfeeding your baby during this pandemic. There are some important tips to consider if you are diagnosed with COVID19. If you are unable to breastfeed, due to your illness, pumping and allowing a healthy caregiver to feed the baby is recommended.
Is it safe to breastfeed if I have COVID-19?
If you have COVID-19, or you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, it is good to know that the coronavirus has not been found in breastmilk.
You can breastfeed safely by:
- Wearing a mask over your mouth and nose when breastfeeding.
- Washing your hands before and after touching your baby.
- Routinely cleaning and disinfecting surfaces you have touched.
Another option if you have COVID-19 and are too sick to breastfeed, is to express your breast milk.
- Use a manual or electric breast pump, or even just your hands to get out or express your milk.
- Aim to express your milk 8 times every 24 hours, or whenever the baby feeds.
- Wear a mask over your mouth and nose when pumping.
- Wash your hands before and after pumping.
- Clean your pump and pump parts after each use.
- Wash your hands before handling bottles of your expressed breast milk.
- Have a healthy caregiver feed your expressed breast milk to your baby, if at all possible.
If you are unable to maintain your milk supply while you are sick, it may be possible to restart breastfeeding after you recover. You can call Washington Regional’s Breastfeeding Helpline (479-463-1619) or the Arkansas Breastfeeding Helpline (844-344-0408) if you have questions about how to do this.
Should I keep breastfeeding if my baby has COVID-19?
If your breastfeeding baby or child becomes sick with COVID-19 or any other illness, talk to your pediatrician and keep breastfeeding.
For questions about breastfeeding, reach out to one of the hotlines below:
- Washington Regional Medical Center Breastfeeding Helpline: 479-463-1619
(Monday – Friday, 8:30 to 4:30)
- Arkansas Breastfeeding Helpline: Toll-Free 844-344-0408
(24 hours/day, 7 days/week)
Translation in Spanish and other languages available.
Request an Appointment
Northwest Arkansas Pediatrics, a MANA Clinic offers lactation services, provided by Allison Scott, a certified lactation consultant and advanced practice nurse with over 30 years of lactation experience. Allison provides consultation at our Well Clinic and by Televisit. To schedule an appointment for lactation consultation, call (479) 443-3471.
- Key messages on breastfeeding and COVID-19 prepared by the Global Breastfeeding Collective https://sph.unc.edu/files/2020/04/CGBI_Collective-BF-and-COVID-19.pdf
- WHO Q&A on COVID-19, pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding
- UNICEF brief: Infant and Young Child Feeding in the Context of COVID-19, March 2020
- Message Framework for the Global Breastfeeding Collective
- We do not know whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus via breast milk, but the limited data available suggest this is not likely to be a source of transmission. https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/maternal-or-infant-illnesses/covid-19-and-breastfeeding.html
- The coronavirus has not been found in breast milk, and transmission via breastfeeding has not been demonstrated. https://sph.unc.edu/files/2020/04/CGBI_Collective-BF-and-COVID-19.pdf