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Woman breastfeeding a child outside

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and breastfeeding

Woman breastfeeding a child outside1

March 17, 2020

While much is still unknown about COVID-19, here are the current recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for breastfeeding mothers that may have COVID-19. This information is current as of March 17, 2020. Please consult resources like the CDC and WHO for the most recent guidance.

If I have symptoms of COVID-19 should I continue to breastfeed my baby?

If you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19, you should call your healthcare provider for medical advice. In addition, take precautions such as staying home and limiting contact with others, wear a facemask when you are around others (especially when you breastfeed), covering coughs and sneezes, and washing your hands for at least 20 seconds before touching your baby. Your healthcare provider can provide more guidance on how to continue to breastfeed if you’re infected.

There are rare exceptions when breastfeeding or feeling pumped milk is not recommended, but currently having COVID-19 is not on the list. There hasn’t been specific guidelines for breastfeeding during infection with similar viruses like SARS, but the recommendation for mothers with flu (outside of the immediate postpartum setting) is that they continue breastfeeding or pumping, while taking precautions to avoid spreading the virus.

Can COVID-19 be passed through breastmilk to my baby?

Person-to-person spread is believed to be mainly through droplets in the air from a cough or sneeze by an infected person. Limited studies have shown that the virus is not detected in breast milk, but it is unknown if it can be spread through breast milk.

Will COVID-19 decrease my milk supply?

While the virus itself is unlikely to cause a decrease in your breast milk supply, you may experience less milk production for other related reasons. Stress and anxiety can have a big impact on your production, and if you are infected or are concerned you might be infected, it’s understandable if stress levels are high. In addition, related symptoms such as fatigue or decreased appetite may reduce your milk supply.

Where can I find the most up-to-date information about COVID-19?

Make sure you use trustworthy sources for information regarding COVID-19 and beware of misinformation. The CDC and WHO are actively updating information as it is available.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/inpatient-obstetric-healthcare-guidance.html
https://www.unicef.org/stories/novel-coronavirus-outbreak-what-parents-should-know#advice-pregnancy
https://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/breastfeeding-special-circumstances/contraindications-to-breastfeeding.html
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/index.html
https://utswmed.org/medblog/decrease-breast-milk-supply/

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