COVID-19 Breastfeeding Update
March 13, 2020
COVID-19 Breastfeeding Update from Lauren Macaluso, MD Breastfeeding Medicine:
The choice to breastfeed is the mothers and families. In their March 10, 2020 Statement on Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine states this choice continues during COVID-19. Breast milk protects infants from illness. It is rare when breastfeeding or feeding expressed breast milk is not recommended. https://www.bfmed.org/abm-statement-coronavirus
In limited studies on women with COVID-19 the virus has not been detected in breast milk. The World Health Organization states that mothers with COVID-19 can breastfeed.
At home, a mother with confirmed COVID-19 or who has symptoms and is being tested should take precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant. This includes hand hygiene (soap and water 20 seconds or alcohol-based hand sanitizer) before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible when feeding at the breast.
If expressing breast milk, mom should perform hand hygiene before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow CDC recommendations for cleaning: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/healthychildcare/infantfeeding/breastpump.html
If possible, have someone who is well care for the baby and feed the expressed breast milk to the baby.
Mothers with confirmed COVID-19 infection should be separated except for breastfeeding. The goal is to have another uninfected adult care for the baby. The mother should continue handwashing and mask-wearing for at least 5-7 days until cough and respiratory secretions are improved.
In the hospital after delivery, there are similar recommendations for the confirmed COVID-19 or symptomatic mother who is being tested. Separation is recommended with the infant in a bassinet 6 feet from the mother’s bed with mom performing hand hygiene before touching and face mask-wearing to avoid spreading the virus to her infant. The goal again is to have another uninfected adult caring for the baby.
If the mother with COVID-19 needs medical care for herself in the hospital, temporary separation from the baby may be necessary. Mothers who choose to breastfeed should be encouraged and helped to express their breast milk and establish their milk supply. The same recommendations again apply at home or in the hospital; hand hygiene beforehand expression and pumping, CDC pump part cleaning, and having an uninfected adult care for the baby and give expressed milk are recommended.
Information is being updated by the CDC and WHO as it becomes available. You can check here for the most recent recommendations: