Have you tested positive for COVID-19 and are wondering if you can still breastfeed? There is currently not a lot of information about breastfeeding and COVID-19, however we do know that with other coronavirus infections, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), the virus has not been found in breastmilk.
When you breastfeed, your antibodies are passed to your baby through your breast milk. Your breast milk provides protection against many illnesses, therefore if you have COVID-19 it is recommended to continue breastfeeding. You should take all self-isolation precautions and wear a face mask while breastfeeding to avoid giving the virus to your baby.
If you are too sick to breastfeed you can hand express or pump your milk. Hand express or pump at least 8 times in 24 hours including once at night to maintain your breast milk supply. Your expressed milk may be fed to your baby from a cup, spoon or bottle by someone who is well.
If you are expressing breast milk by hand or with a manual or electric breast pump you will need to:
- put on a non-medical face mask
- wash your hands before touching any pump or bottle parts
- follow the manufacturer’s instructions for pump cleaning after each use
If a bottle is used to feed expressed breast milk, ensure that it is properly sterilized.
Your baby’s caregivers must practice good hygiene measures, including hand washing and wearing a face mask, before touching the baby, breast pump, or feeding bottles and equipment. Also clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.