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Coronavirus: Is it Safe to Breastfeed?

By: Maya Powers, MD

Coronavirus has impacted almost every aspect of our lives, and breastfeeding is no exception. With that in mind, we thought we would offer some tips for our new Moms on breastfeeding during this uncertain time.

You may have heard COVID-19 being referred to as “the novel Coronavirus.” This means that it is a virus that has not been previously identified in humans. That also means that there’s a lot that we don’t know about it.

We do know, however, that the transfer of the virus from a mom to baby most likely happens after delivery, and not through the placenta or birth canal. Research has also suggested that the virus is not transmitted through breastmilk and, behaving like many other viruses, the Coronavirus is shared through respiratory droplets from person to person.

So the good news is that Moms who are diagnosed with a Coronavirus infection are encouraged to continuing giving their infants good nutrition and immunity through their breastmilk.

In an effort to protect infants from getting infected, however, Moms who have the virus are encouraged to wash their hands, wear a mask, and pump their breastmilk during the time that they are experiencing symptoms of the Coronavirus infection (fever, fatigue, cough, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, etc). Moms should also allow other family members to care for their infant until they are symptom-free and fever-free for at least 72 hours.

Additionally, just like in the early days of the pandemic we saw shortages in everything from toilet paper to milk, flour, and cleaning supplies, there is a chance that we may see a shortage of items like formula, bottles, nipples, etc. Given that possibility, as well as the many incredible health benefits that babies get from breastmilk, we encourage every Mom who is able, to breastfeed during this time.

Since a mom’s breastmilk supply is established in the first few weeks after the baby is born, Moms who wish to do so should start breastfeeding in the delivery room, immediately following the baby’s birth, and continue to breastfeed (or pump) every few hours until her supply is adequate to meet the baby’s needs.

There is certainly a lot to navigate in those early weeks after a baby is born, and the presence of this new virus in our world makes things a little more complicated. Know that we would love to answer your questions and offer help at any point in this wonderful journey. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at the Breastfeeding Center of Greenville (BFC) or at any of our Parkside offices!

Until next time,

Dr. Maya Powers

Parkside Provider, Medical Director (BFC), and Thai food fan for life

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