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How to safely breastfeed your baby during COVID-19

May 12, 2020

It is safe to breastfeed and provide your baby with your pumped milk or donor milk during this time of coronavirus (COVID-19)

Your milk is safe and beneficial for your baby.

Here are some answers to new parents’ top questions about breastfeeding.

Can COVID-19 pass to my baby through breast milk?

So far, the virus has not been found in the breast milk of women with COVID-19. The limited studies on breastfeeding women with COVID-19 and other coronavirus infections have not detected the virus in breast milk. Currently, the primary concern is not whether the virus can be transmitted through breast milk, but rather whether an infected mother can transmit the virus through respiratory droplets during the period of breastfeeding. A mother with COVID-19 symptoms should take precautions like washing her hands before touching her baby and wearing a face mask while feeding.

Breast milk gives babies protection against many illnesses. It also is the best source of antibodies and nutrition for most babies. Talk with your ob-gyn or other health care professional about whether to start or continue breastfeeding.

Should I give formula or donor milk, to be on the safe side?

It is actually safer to give your breast milk – not formula or donor milk. Breast milk contains one-of-a-kind antibodies that lower the chances that your baby becomes sick with COVID-19. Top authorities, such as World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, American College of Pediatrics, and Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommend that breastfeeding should continue during this pandemic.

If a mother’s milk is not available or not plentiful, donor milk is a great option. Formula is the next best and a safe alternative. We recommend that you discuss options with your care team.

How can I be sure that donor milk is safe?

It is recommended that you only get donor milk from an official milk bank to assure that the milk is safe. Donor milk provided by our hospital comes from a milk bank that follows thorough screening and sterilization processes. We do not recommend using donor milk from unknown or private sources.

I am having problems with breastfeeding. What should I do?

We recognize that every baby and mom is different so we offer resources and reassurance for all levels of breastfeeding experience – from those who have never breastfed or are struggling to moms who might just might want additional support.

At our dedicated lactation clinic, you’ll receive breastfeeding assistance for yourself and medical care for your infant. We are offering virtual and in-person visits five days a week. Please call the scheduling line at (804) 828-CHOR (2467) and our coordinator will determine whether an in-person or virtual visit will work best for you.

How can I lower the chances my baby is exposed to COVID-19?

There are several precautions you can take to limit exposure.

  • Wash your hands with warm, soapy water or use an alcohol hand sanitizer before and after you breastfeed or pump.
  • If pumping, make sure your pump parts are clean before each use.
  • Wear a face mask if you have coronavirus symptoms.
  • Right now, it’s important to limit nonessential in-person visits. You can do phone calls and video chats.
  • If you have to go out, follow the social distancing parameters and consider wearing a mask (babies and toddlers under age 2 should not wear masks).

Your family’s safety and well-being remain our priority.

Have additional questions or need support? Our lactation team is here for you. Call (804) 828-CHOR (2467) to schedule a virtual or in-person visit.

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