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Pregnancy and COVID-19: Breastfeeding

October 30, 2020


If you decide that you want to have close physical contact with your baby and you’re known to be COVID positive at the time of delivery, it is still possible to do so. Again, according to CDC guidelines, and according to the guidelines that the hospital has in place, what is really important is that if breastfeeding is undertaken, that the mom wears a mask and uses hand sanitizer and good cleanliness and good hand washing before and after breastfeeding the baby and making sure that the transmission to the baby, which is through respiratory secretions, so breathing or mucous membrane contact with the baby, kissing the baby, for example, that is how COVID-19 has spread. And so reducing that risk, should you decide to breastfeed your baby and be in close physical contact with your baby means using a mask properly using proper personal protective equipment and using good hand washing or good hand sanitizer with the appropriate amount of alcohol in the hand sanitizer.

And of course the hospital would be your best guide in that situation. But the bottom line is that yes, you can have physical contact with your baby if you’re COVID positive and you decide that that is the route to go, it may not be the best route for all families. And some families will decide to have another caregiver, potentially the other parent care for the baby. Another parent who may be COVID negative care for the baby throughout that newborn period, so that the risk to the baby is much lower. And the physical separation from COVID positive mom that has just delivered the baby may be offset by that bonding experience with the other parent, thereby creating a really low risk of COVID transmission to the newborn.
We know there’s a lot of benefit to breastfeeding the baby in terms of bonding in terms of immuno protection or protecting the baby from future infections, you may even be transmitting some COVID-19 antibodies to the baby that may possibly, we don’t have these answers yet, but may possibly help the baby fight any infection that he or she gets. We also know some of the benefits of breastfeeding around epigenetics, meaning what the baby’s health will be like long-term. And so if you decide to go that route, make sure you’re fully informed and you do the best that you can to reduce the risk to your baby. Now, if your baby is found to be COVID-19 positive and you’re COVID-19 positive, then it doesn’t matter so much in terms of what you do and full contact is completely acceptable. So again, check out the center for disease control guidelines, they’re emerging all the time and make sure you have these important vital conversations with your healthcare provider, your healthcare team, and the hospital where you plan to deliver your baby.”

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