As the world braces for the ongoing impact of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) provides guidance concerning the pandemic’s impact on the public, including breastfeeding mothers. People understandably want answers and advice on what to do as the virus spreads.
The immunological properties of breastmilk protect babies against many illnesses. The CDC currently recommends that breastfeeding mothers confirmed or under investigation for COVID-19 follow these guidelines:
“Whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by the mother in coordination with her family and healthcare providers.”
“A mother with confirmed COVID-19 or who is a symptomatic person under investigation should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including washing her hands before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible, while feeding at the breast.”
“If expressing breast milk with a manual or electric breast pump, the mother should wash her hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use.”
“If possible, consider having someone who is well feed the expressed breast milk to the infant.”
“Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza (flu) and other respiratory pathogens spread.” (CDC, 2020)
In limited studies including women with SARS, the virus has not been detected in breastmilk, however, it is not known whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus via breastmilk. In a recent, but small study in China, a group of six mothers testing positive for COVID-19 were studied after giving birth. No evidence of the virus was found in their samples of breastmilk, cord blood, amniotic fluid or throat swabs of their newborns (Chen et al., 2020).
Interim Guidance on Breastfeeding for a Mother Confirmed or Under Investigation For COVID-19 can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html
Answers to specific questions about COVID-19 are in the CDC’s FAQ section:
For information about COVID-19 in your state, search your state’s health department, which works with the CDC to monitor and implement all recommendations:
For up-to-date developments, research, and
guidance from government health authorities and the World Health Organization
(WHO), go to: