Q & A with Dr. Stephanie Canale about Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and Breastfeeding
Q: IF I HAVE COVID-19 AND AM BREASTFEEDING, CAN I TRANSMIT THE VIRUS TO MY CHILD?
A: In limited studies as of April 15, 2020, COVID-19 has not been detected in breast milk. However, a newborn is susceptible to person-to-person infection, so if you are sick and choose to feed at the breast, make sure to wear a face mask and wash your hands before each feeding. If you choose to pump, use only your own dedicated equipment and wash your hands before touching any parts. Make sure to clean all parts that come into contact with your milk. If you have a spouse or partner who is not infected, consider having them bottle feed the expressed milk to your infant.
Q: SHOULD I CONTINUE BREASTFEEDING IF I HAVE COVID-19?
A: This is a personal choice each mother needs to make, but there is a strong case for continuing to breastfeed. Breast milk contains many immune fighting cells and can help protect an infant against infection. We know from decades of research that breastfed babies are less likely to become ill with respiratory, gastrointestinal, and diarrheal illnesses. We also know that breastfeeding and skin to skin bonding can help alleviate maternal and infant stress and anxiety.
We recommend giving your baby freshly expressed milk when possible. There have been some studies that have shown a decreased immune activity of frozen versus freshly expressed breastmilk.
About Dr. Canale: Stephanie is a tireless advocate of maternal and infant health. She is a practicing family physician at UCLA Santa Monica and the founder of Lactation Lab.