Breastfeeding + Covid 19
Breastfeeding is important to human health at all times, but especially in times of emergency. Breastfeeding gives protection to the child by passing on immunity from mum.
Most often babies who are breastfed stay healthy even when their parents or other family members are unwell with an infectious illness.
Women will have specific antibodies and other important factors in their milk if
They become infected with COVID-19 shortly before giving birth and then begin breastfeeding, or
They become infected when already breastfeeding.
These antibodies will protect their breastfeeding infant and enhance their infant’s immune responses.
If you become unwell and you are breastfeeding your baby, it is important to keep breastfeeding. Your baby will already have been exposed to the virus and will benefit most from continued direct breastfeeding at the breast.
Self-isolation after potential exposure to COVID-19
If you are in self-isolation after potential exposure to COVID-19, your breastfed baby should stay with you so that you can keep breastfeeding.
- Wash your hands before and after touching your baby.
- Wear a surgical mask during breastfeeds.
- Avoid kissing and touching your baby’s face.
- Avoid coughing or sneezing on baby.
Exclusive breastfeeding (only offering baby breast milk) offers the best protection for babies. There is no evidence that the virus is passed on through breast milk.
Confirmed or probable COVID-19
There is no evidence of transmission of the virus in breast milk. It is good for your baby to continue breastfeeding even if you have confirmed or probable COVID-19.
To reduce spread while breastfeeding:
1. wash your hands before and after you feed. wear a surgical mask during breastfeeds. avoid kissing and touching your baby’s face. avoiding coughing or sneezing on them.
2. clean/disinfect contaminated surfaces – as should be done in all cases where anyone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 interacs with others, including children.
3. If you are too unwell to breastfeed, express your milk and give it to your baby with a clean spoon, cup or bottle – all while following the same methods of preventing spread.
Your baby will be considered a “close contact” of a confirmed case and you will be given advice about this from your Public Health Unit.
Information from Auckland DHB/Ministry of Health