The recent novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is raising all kinds of questions for new moms, especially when it comes to nursing and breast milk.
We’ve heard it time and time again: breast is best. But amidst the recent pandemic, many new moms are wondering whether it’s safe to continue to breastfeed their babies.
Liz Maseth, a nurse and Internationally Board certified lactation consultant at Akron Children’s Hospital, turns to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to get to the bottom of this question for breastfeeding moms alike.
Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most babies and protects against many illnesses. There are rare exceptions when breastfeeding is not recommended. However, COVID-19 is a new strain and much is unknown about the virus. That’s why the CDC recommends mothers, in coordination with their family and healthcare providers, make the best decision whether to start or continue breastfeeding.
The good news is in limited studies on women with COVID-19 and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), the virus has not been detected in breast milk. The limited data available suggests this is not likely to be a source of transmission, according to the CDC.
The concern, however, is whether a mother with COVID-19 can transmit the virus to her baby through respiratory droplets while breastfeeding. So if you do have COVID-19 and still are breastfeeding, the CDC recommends moms take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her baby:
- Wash your hands before touching your baby and wear a face mask, if possible.
- If you’re expressing breast milk, wash your hands before and after pumping or touching any pump or bottle parts. If possible, have someone else who is well feed the expressed breast milk to your baby.
Stay up to date on breastfeeding recommendations and COVID-19 from the CDC. The organization is continually updating its website as we learn more. You can also contact Liz Maseth at 330-543-4531 for lactation support. Other information and updates about Akron Children’s services during the COVID-19 pandemic can be found at akronchildrens.org/coronavirus.