Breastfeeding: Tips for Breastfeeding When You Are COVID-19 Positive
It is breastfeeding awareness week and the perfect time to highlight a topic near and dear to the hearts of the Rainbow Pediatrics team – breastfeeding. The American Medical Association (AMA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend breastfeeding as the best choice for babies. The AAP recommends exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months of a newborn’s life. Breastfed babies have fewer infections and hospitalizations than formula-fed infants. This is due to the antibodies passed from the mother to the infant, strengthening their immune system.
But what happens when mom is COVID-19 positive? This blog will highlight the most up-to-date research on breastfeeding with COVID-19.
Breastfeeding with COVID While in the Hospital
According to the CDC, some newborns tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after birth; however, most had mild or no symptoms and recovered. Talk to your healthcare provider about whether it is advisable to have your newborn room with you if you are COVID-19 positive. Having your infant room with you will make breastfeeding more manageable and help bonding with your new bundle of joy.
Before Breastfeeding with COVID:
WASH your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Scrub all surfaces of your hands, including beneath the nails and between your fingers. Alternately, you can use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Rewash hands – or sanitize – after breastfeeding.
WEAR a well-fitted mask to protect your newborn, other family members, and any medical personnel entering your room. A mask should be worn any time you are within six feet of your newborn.
ISOLATE from other family members. The CDC recommends keeping your newborn more than six feet away from you as much as possible. According to the CDC, the isolation period is as follows:
If you had symptoms, your isolation period ends after
- 5 days since symptoms first appeared, and
- 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medicine, and
- Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving
If you had no symptoms, your isolation period ends after
- 5 days have passed since you tested positive for COVID-19
The CDC recommends that a mask still be worn until day 10. If you have a weakened immune system, different timeframes apply. You can view these here.
MONITOR your infant for any symptoms of COVID-19. These symptoms include, but are not limited to: a fever higher than 100.4˚F, a runny nose, lethargy, coughing, vomiting, breathing difficulties, and diarrhea.
RECRUIT a helper. Skin-to-skin contact is critically important to the healthy development of your infant. A mother should not be separated from their newborn due to COVID. However, if you become too sick to care for your baby, a fully vaccinated helper can stand in and provide this essential care. Caregivers should follow the same recommendations, including washing hands for at least 20 seconds and wearing a mask if they are living with you or have been in close contact with you.
Breastfeeding is one of a mother’s most gratifying experiences with her newborn. We encourage you not to let COVID-19 keep you from experiencing them. If you have questions or concerns about breastfeeding with COVID, please contact our office. We are here to support you wherever you are in your journey into motherhood.