By: Norma Garcia, DO
DHR Health Women’s Hospital
Based on what we currently know, pregnant women may be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 infection, sometimes requiring ICU admission. Additionally, pregnant women infected with COVID-19 may have an increased risk for all pregnancy related complications, including preterm labor. It is important to protect yourself and take increased precautions if you think you might be pregnant or are already pregnant.
Research is currently being performed so that doctors can learn if COVID-19 can pass through the breast milk and cause infection to a newborn baby. Most information we have has shown that it is safe to breastfeed your baby if you have COVID-19. Mothers have to remember that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most babies. Breast milk helps protect babies from illnesses, including infections of the ears, lungs, and digestive system for at least the first 6 months of the infant’s life. For the above reasons, having COVID-19 should not stop you from giving your baby breast milk. Some moms with COVID-19 choose to use a breast pump and express breast milk so that a non-infected family member or nursing staff can feed the newborn. Always make sure to thoroughly clean the breast pump and all necessary supplies in between feeds. If you do choose to breastfeed your child, remember to always wear a facemask and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before each feeding.
If you plan to breastfeed after delivery and are found to have COVID-19, talk with your OBGYN, pediatrician or other qualified health care provider. Together, you can come up with a plan to allow safe and appropriate breastfeeding for your newborn infant.
Sources: CDC and ACOG