As a new mother, there is an innate instinct to want to protect your baby and family from any illnesses. Now is a unique time as a mother, living through the COVID-19 pandemic and flu season. It may be challenging to keep everyone in the household healthy and free from illness. There are precautions you can take to protect you and your infant during this time. Many mothers worry and may question themselves about doing what is best for their baby and at the same time keeping yourself healthy. Here are a few common questions and answers that may guide you on your breastfeeding journey during the pandemic and flu season.
Is breastfeeding and pumping expressed breastmilk safe during the pandemic and during flu season?
Yes, COVID-19 spreads between people who are in close contact, mainly through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. To date, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is passed from mother to baby in breastmilk. Breastfeeding has also been shown to be safe when a mom has other illnesses like the flu.
If I have or suspect to have the virus that causes COVID-19 or the flu, should I continue to breastfeed?
The benefits of breastfeeding and breastmilk feedings continue to be the focus for optimal infant health and nutrition. The unique qualities in your milk will help protect your baby due the immunological factors in breastmilk that are passed on to your infant. If you are exposed to an illness, breastmilk will pass on protective factors to your infant. The CDC, The Center for Disease Control, continues to reaffirm the importance of breastfeeding and breastmilk during times of illness such as Covid 19 and during the flu season. Breastmilk is very unique and can lessen the chance of serious respiratory symptoms due to illness.
What precautions can I take to protect my infant and family?
Preventive precautions are always the best route to take when you or others are ill with either the flu or COVID-19. Since the virus can spread through air droplets, wearing a mask and practicing proper hand hygiene are extremely important. Wash hands frequently with soup and water for at least 20 seconds and if running water is not available, use at least a 60% or higher hand sanitizer. If you are using a breast pump to express your breastmilk, it is recommended that you have a designated breast pump (not shared by others). A quality personal breast pump, like the Ameda Mya Joy, is a perfect choice. It is also important to clean and disinfect your breast pump and parts correctly after each use.
Is it safe for me to get the COVID-19 vaccine if I am breastfeeding?
There are no current data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in lactating mothers or the effects of mRNA vaccines on the breastfed infant or milk production/expression. However, mRNA vaccines are not thought to be a risk to the breastfeeding infant. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/recommendations/pregnancy.html If you are Pregnant or breastfeeding, the decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine should be between you and your healthcare provider.