COVID-19: Medela’s Lactation Consultants Offer Breastfeeding Support and Advice on Breastfeeding with COVID-19

Following on from our Instagram Live event ran by two of Medela’s in-house lactation consultants, Katie James and Sioned Hilton, we’ve pulled together the main advice and tips from our experts, in the hopes of offering some breastfeeding support to our lovely community of Medela Mums during this very strangest of years!

Is it safe to breastfeed if I have confirmed or suspected COVID-19?

The short answer is YES!

Advice from the Government and Health Professional Organisations is that contact between mother and baby should be maintained, and breastfeeding should be encouraged, and supported, even if a mother is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19. Precautions should be taken to minimize the spread of infection – these can be easily remembered by the 3 W’s.

Wear a mask

Wash your hands

Wipe surfaces

Put simply, the benefits of breastfeeding for both mum and baby outweigh any risks of infection. Your milk actually has antibodies within it to help protect against the virus, so breastfeeding is the best thing you can do to protect your little one!

Is it safe to still hold my baby skin-to-skin if I have confirmed or suspected COVID-19?

YES! The same as with breastfeeding, advice from both the Government and Health Professional Organisations is that contact between mum and baby should be maintained. The importance of skin-to-skin time, especially during the pandemic, can’t be overstated, but do remember the 3 W’s if you have confirmed or suspected COVID-19! Many mums actually reported that they felt they had more opportunity to relax at home topless during lockdown, allowing for lots more skin-to-skin contact with their babies. (Ref: Brown A, Shenker N. Matern Child Nutr. 2020).

My baby has been born early and is in the special care baby unit/NICU. If I test positive for COVID-19, is my milk still safe for them to have?

YES! You can pump and give it to them until they’re able to breastfeed. As with the above, your breastmilk has antibodies which help to protect little ones from all sorts of things, like viruses and illnesses, including COVID-19!

 In a recent study of over 1,200 mums, 70% said that the lockdown restrictions during COVID-19 had been a reason they had decided to stop breastfeeding, compared with only 43% of mums before lockdown. (Ref: Brown A, Shenker N. Matern Child Nutr. 2020). For more advice on how to get good breastfeeding support during the pandemic, you can access all the below organisations for free:

National Breastfeeding Helpline – 0300 100 0212

The Breastfeeding Network – for breastfeeding support and information on medications - https://www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/

The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers - https://abm.me.uk/

National Childbirth Trust - https://www.nct.org.uk/baby-toddler/feeding/early-days/support-breastfeeding-or-bottle-feeding-our-infant-feeding-line

Unicef UK Baby Friendly Initiative - https://www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/

Twins Trust Breastfeeding Peer Support - https://twinstrust.org/let-us-help/support/breastfeeding-peer-support.html

Tommy's trust - https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/after-birth/feeding-your-baby/breastfeeding-information-and-support

Association of Tongue-Tie Practitioners - https://www.tongue-tie.org.uk/

Medela – Breastfeeding during COVID-19 - https://www.medela.com/breastfeeding/mums-journey/covid-19-information-concerning-breastfeeding

Medela – Lactation support - https://www.medela.com/breastfeeding/mums-journey/lactation-consultant

Medela UK Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/medela.uk/

Medela UK Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/medela_uk/

Test and Trace COVID-19 App - https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

You can access the Instagram Live in full here.

We hope our expert’s advice has been helpful for you, but please do use the above links and info if you have any other questions.  You can also join in the conversation over on our Facebook and Instagram.