COVID-19: FAQ’s about Pregnancy and Breastfeeding for New Parents-To-Be

Becoming a parent is an important time for anyone but having a baby in the midst of a global pandemic is sure to raise questions for any parent-to-be. To help you access the information you need, we’ve brought together all of our expert advice on all things breastfeeding and pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To provide parents-to-be with the latest and most credible information regarding COVID-19 and all things pregnancy and breastfeeding, here at Medela we’ve created a COVID-19 information hub on our website.

Breastfeeding

Can I breastfeed if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?

Yes – providing you take the necessary precautions. While there’s no evidence to suggest COVID-19 can be transmitted via breast milk, the bigger concern is that you may pass the virus onto your little one through breathing onto your baby during the close contact of breastfeeding. It’s recommended you wash your hands before holding your baby and wear a mask while you’re feeding. Recent research has shown that breast milk actually contains antibodies against COVID-19, so the best thing to do to protect your little one is to continue breastfeeding!

Can COVID-19 be transmitted through breast milk?

Although there are only limited studies on breastfeeding women with COVID-19, the results that have been published have not detected the virus in breast milk. If you do test positive and want to continue breastfeeding, it’s recommended to follow the advice of washing your hands and wearing a mask, so you don’t transmit the virus to your little one through respiratory droplets. 

Should mums who test positive for COVID-19 stay away from their baby while infected and feed them expressed milk only?

As recommended by current guidance, it is possible for mums with suspected/confirmed COVID-19 to stay with their newborn as long as precautions are taken to protect the baby (wearing masks, washing hands etc).

Is breastfeeding safe considering the risk that I could get COVID-19? Should I switch to formula?

There is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can be passed on through breastmilk, and considering formula is made in factories where COVID-19 can spread, causing the factory to need to shut down, breastfeeding is the most reliable method of feeding your baby currently. Considering the benefits your milk has for your baby versus the current insufficient evidence of transmitting COVID-19 through breastmilk, you can continue breastfeeding.

If I test positive for COVID-19 and am too unwell to breastfeed, can I restart breastfeeding once I have recovered?

If you have been apart from your baby and breastfeeding has been interrupted, re-establishing lactation when you can be with your baby again is always worth trying, as it is generally possible!

It’s recommended that to re-establish your milk supply and continue breastfeeding, you try the following:

Have plenty of skin-to-skin contact with baby, as this helps to increase your hormonal response.

Breast massage and expressing using a hand pump may help to keep your supply going.

Baby should feed from both breasts at least 8-12 times in a 24 hour period, at least 15 minutes on each breast. You could consider night feeds to keep the rhythm going.

Try feeding baby on one breast while pumping the other – hard work and a balancing act but great to re-establish your milk supply.

Making sure baby has a good latch is vital for effective sucking and to avoid painful nipples for mama!

Check baby’s nappies to make sure they’re feeding enough – this article can help with what to expect from baby’s nappies in those first few weeks.

If in doubt, ask your midwife or healthcare professional – there’s plenty of help and advice for you, even though it may not be in person.

 

Pregnancy

I’ve found out I am pregnant. Will it hurt the baby if I test positive for COVID-19 during the pregnancy?

First of all, congratulations! Pregnancy is such an exciting time and try not to worry too much about COVID-19, there is lots of support available for you!

Currently there is not enough evidence to know whether mum can pass the virus onto baby in the womb, as it is still being investigated. There have been a small number of problems with pregnancy and delivery (e.g preterm birth) reported in babies born to mums who tested positive for COVID-19, however it is not clear if these were related to the virus or not.

Is it easier for pregnant women to become ill with COVID-19?

There is no evidence currently that pregnant women are more susceptible to becoming infected with COVID-19 than anyone else. Pregnant women experience changes in their bodies which may increase their risk of some infections, so this is why it is always important for pregnant women to protect themselves from illnesses, COVID-19 regardless.

I’m pregnant. How do I protect myself from COVID-19 during the pregnancy?

Pregnant women should do the same things as the general public to avoid infection – wearing masks in public places, washing hands often, and following the current Government advice concerning seeing friends and family. 

What if I am pregnant and meet up with somebody who tests positive for COVID-19, will I be able to breastfeed?

Yes. If you intend to breastfeed, even if you have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 or you yourself have symptoms, you are encouraged to breastfeed. You must however apply all the necessary precautions such as washing your hands before you feed and wearing a face mask while baby is feeding.

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