Renee Bowling RN, Lactation Consultant
Every day scientists are learning more about COVID-19. So please, as you read the following on breastfeeding during the pandemic, always talk to your doctor for the latest and most up to date information. Many decisions are being made on a case to case basis.
Can I Still Breastfeed?
All International World Health guidelines agree that moms should breastfeed, if possible, during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the number is small, no infants born to mothers with COVID-19 have shown to have the virus. The virus was not found in samples of breastmilk or amniotic fluid.
What Precautions Should I Take?
For mothers who are positive for COVID-19 or are at risk, special precautions are recommended. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents who test positive for the novel coronavirus avoid caring for the baby until certain health parameters are met. A healthy person should take responsibility for the care and feeding the baby using the mother’s expressed breastmilk if possible.
While much is still unknown about COVID-19, we do know that the virus is primarily spread person to person and mainly through respiratory droplets (liquid from the lungs – spread through the air). If direct breastfeeding is chosen, and the risks and benefits have been explained by a health care provider, we recommend you wear a mask when near your infant until you are certain you are not contagious. If you know you have COVID-19, as much care as possible should be handled by a healthy adult.
Everyone needs to practice good hand hygiene. Anyone who holds the baby needs to wash their hands before touching the baby.
Can I Still Pump?
The following guidelines are recommended for pumping.
Wash your hands meticulously for 20 seconds. Soap and water with good hand washing technique should be chosen over hand sanitizer if available. There are multiple videos online that demonstrate proper handwashing – we like this one from the CDC.
Wash your hands before you use the breast pump, before and after storing the milk. Disinfect the outside of the pump before and after you use it. Designate a certain basin and brush that will only be used to clean pump parts. Take apart and wash all pump parts with hot soapy water per manufacturer instruction after each pumping session. Disinfect all pump parts and the basin and brush used for cleaning once per day. Allow the pump parts to air dry. Once the parts are dry, store them in a closed container.
As always if you are experiencing breastfeeding difficulties consider a lactation consultant. The Motherhood Center is offering lactation consultations with in-home visits and video chats. Please call (713)963-8880 extension 113 to speak to a consultant.
These are trying times for everyone and even more so for new moms and families. Parents may be separated from their extended family members who normally would be there to support and help them. Post-partum services are a good alternative to support new parents who are not able to be with their families right now.
Emotional and mental support needs are increased right now. If you are need of help, the Center for Post-Partum health is available at (713) 561-3884.
Please stay safe and we can get through this together. Let us know if you need any assistance. Always contact your health care physician for any medical care and guidance, especially as information is rapidly changing during this pandemic as more information becomes available.