Here is what you need to know:
Plan to breastfeed as normal
1. BREASTFEEDING REMAINS THE SAFEST WAY TO FEED YOUR BABY
2. BREASTFEEDING PROVIDES YOUR BABY WITH REAL TIME IMMUNOLOGICAL PROPERTIES NOT FOUND IN ANY OTHER FORM OF INFANT FEEDING
3. SO FAR ALL RESEARCH
SHOWS THAT COVID-19 CANNOT BE TRANSFERRED IN BREASTMILK
4. TRANSMISSION CAN ONLY OCCUR BY HOLDING YOUR BABY; SAME AS FOR ANY FORM OF FEEDING
If you are about to have a baby or have just had a baby and your Covid-19 status is positive
Plan to breastfeed as normal provided you feel well enough to do so. If you feel too unwell consider pumping your milk
1. CONTINUE TO BREASTFEED
2. WASH YOUR HANDS AND USE A MATERNAL FACE MASK WHILST BREASTFEEDING
3. IF YOU HAVE JUST GIVEN BIRTH YOUR BABY STAYS WITH YOU IN AN INCUBATOR IN THE ISOLATION AREA OF THE MATERNITY UNIT
4. IF YOU FEEL TOO UNWELL TO BREASTFEED YOU CAN PUMP YOUR MILK. YOU MUST TAKE YOUR OWN PUMP TO THE MATERNITY HOSPITAL
5. YOUR BABY WILL BE TESTED FOR COVD-19
In limited studies on women with COVID-19 and another coronavirus infection, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV), the virus has not been detected in breast milk; however we do not know whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus via breast milk.
Key information: Breast milk provides protections against many respiratory diseases, including influenza (flu). A mother with suspected or confirmed flu should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant while continuing to provide breast milk to her infant.
Guidance on breastfeeding for mothers with confirmed COVID-19 or under investigation for COVID-19
Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. However, much is unknown about COVID-19. Whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by the mother in coordination with her family and healthcare providers. A mother with confirmed COVID-19 or who is a symptomatic PUI should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including washing her hands before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible, while feeding at the breast. If expressing breast milk with a manual or electric breast pump, the mother should wash her hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use. If possible, consider having someone who is well feed the expressed breast milk to the infant.
Guidance on breastfeeding with a positive or suspected COVID-19 diagnosis. COVID-19 has not been detected in breastmilk, according to Dr. Galang. If mothers with COVID-19 are separated from their infants, they should express breastmilk but should wash their hands thoroughly and disinfect the pump and bottles. Someone who is healthy should feed the child.
If an infected mother decides to breastfeed, she should wear a face mask and wash her hands.
For more information about COVID-19 and breastfeeding, visit http://bit.ly/38KvGRr.
Can you still breastfeed if you have COVID-19?
Breastfeeding helps protect babies from a variety of illnesses.This is because breastmilk contains antibodies and other immune protective factors. If you have been diagnosed with or are suspected of having COVID-19, care should be taken to avoid spreading the virus to your baby while you continue to breastfeed (see below for more information).1 If you have stopped breastfeeding there is help available to restart, please call the Breastfeeding Helpline for support.
Will I be able to breastfeed my baby if I have suspected or confirmed coronavirus?
Yes. At the moment there is no evidence that the virus can be carried in breastmilk, so it’s felt that the well-recognised benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of coronavirus through breastmilk.
The main risk of breastfeeding is close contact between you and your baby, as you may share infective airborne droplets, leading to infection of the baby after birth.
A discussion about the risks and benefits of breastfeeding should take place between you and your family and your maternity team.
This guidance may change as knowledge evolves.
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, the following precautions are recommended:
Wash your hands before touching your baby, breast pump or bottles
Try and avoid coughing or sneezing on your baby while feeding at the breast;
Consider wearing a face mask while breastfeeding, if available
Follow recommendations for pump cleaning after each use
Consider asking someone who is well to feed expressed breast milk to your baby.
If you choose to feed your baby with formula or expressed milk, it is recommend that you follow strict adherence to sterilisation guidelines. If you are expressing breast milk in hospital, a dedicated breast pump should be used.
Breastfeeding women who become ill should not be separated from their newborns, the statement adds. There is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted through breastmilk. However, breastfeeding mothers who are infected should wear a mask when near their baby, wash their hands before and after feeding, and disinfect contaminated surfaces. If a mother is too ill to breastfeed, she should be encouraged to express milk for the baby, while taking all necessary precautions.
Details of preliminary research on lack of vertical transmission
With over 60 years of breastfeeding experience, La Leche League International stands firm in encouraging all families to recognize the importance of breastfeeding in providing immunological protections to the breastfed child. Most often, babies who are being nursed remain healthy even when their parents or other family members fall ill with an infectious illness. There is a growing body of research showing babies benefit from multiple and diverse immunologic proteins, including antibodies, provided in human milk, particularly through direct breastfeeding.
Those who become infected shortly before giving birth and then begin breastfeeding, and those who become infected while breastfeeding, will produce specific secretory IgA antibodies and many other critical immune factors in their milk to protect their nursing infants and enhance their infants’ own immune responses. At this time, these immunologic factors will aid their infants’ bodies to respond more effectively to exposure and infection. Following good hygiene practices will also help reduce transfer of the virus.
Recent collated document from WABA on breastfeeding.
Date: 18th March 2020
Recent guidelines from international lactation association
Private Midwives Ireland
Midwives Association of Ireland
Breastfeeding Journeys cork- Maria O’Sullivan IBCLC
ALCI / Association of Lactation Consultants in Ireland
Bear and Bundle