Breastmilk protects infants against many infections. Most health organizations recommend that mothers breastfeed, even when sick, with few exceptions. But the coronavirus presents us with many unknowns. Is breastfeeding during the coronavirus outbreak safe?
Here’s what we know now. We’ll update these guidelines as they change.
Can breastmilk transmit the coronavirus?
We currently don’t know if breastmilk transfers the coronavirus. The coronavirus is still a new virus. Scientists haven’t had time to do enough testing to provide answers.
What we do know: Limited studies of coronaviruses, including COVID-19 and SARS, did not find the virus in breastmilk.
Do respiratory illnesses, including the flu, pass from mother to child during breastfeeding?
Influenza, or flu, does not spread to infants through breast milk. The transmission rates of other respiratory illness during breastfeeding are low. The Centers for Disease Control recommends mothers in both cases to continue breastfeeding.
If I have problems breastfeeding, what should I do?
Call us. We can offer you help either by phone, in person, or by telehealth. We’ll discuss with you the specifics of what is going on. Together, we’ll find options that make sense for the safety of you and your family.
Is it safe to go to the emergency room, if needed?
Yes. So if you have coronavirus symptoms, call first.
I tested positive for coronavirus and am breastfeeding. Should I stop?
No, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). But since so much is unknown about the coronavirus, the CDC recommends making the decision with your health care provider.
Either way, you can protect your baby by following safety guidelines to keep from spreading the virus.
I’m at home nursing my baby, and I have the coronavirus. How can I protect my infant from getting it, too?
Protect your nursing infant by:
- Staying isolated from all household members, including your baby, except when nursing
- Continuing to nurse your child
- Before breastfeeding, wash your hands
- While breastfeeding, wear a mask
See more advice from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine.
I have the coronavirus, and I‘m using a breast pump to feed my baby. What steps do I take to prevent spreading the infection?
You’ll need to:
- Follow proper hand-washing hygiene before touching the pump and its parts
- Clean the pump thoroughly after each use
- If you can, have a well adult feed your baby
What is UVA doing to protect patients?
We've taken several steps to protect our patients, team members and the community. These changes affect visitation, entrances and appointments. See how we're keeping you safe.