Infant and young child feeding & COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing and dynamic phenomenon. In this blog post, we provide an overview of the current information available regarding breastfeeding, chest feeding and COVID-19. We will update this page as new information becomes available.

Put simply, it is recommended to initiate and continue to breastfeed, even with a COVID-19 diagnosis. As stated by Health Canada, “the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been found in breast milk.” (1) There are countless health risks associated with not breastfeeding for both the baby and the parent, and steps should be taken to protect the breastfeeding relationship. If the parent is positive for COVID-19, precautions should be taken to limit droplet exposure to the baby, including good hand hygiene and a well-fitting mask while holding and feeding the baby.

Here are some resources for learning more about COVID-19 and breastfeeding:
(1) Health Canada statement on Pregnancy, childbirth and caring for newborns
(2) SafelyFed – COVID-19 Infant Feeding Resources
(3) La Leche League International – Continuing to Nurse your Baby Through Coronavirus
(4) World Health Organization – Q&A on COVID-19, pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding
(5) Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada – Updated SOGC Committee Opinion – COVID-19 in Pregnancy
(6) Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine – Statement on Coronavirus 2019

We suggest contacting your birthing place and asking how they are supporting these recommendations around breastfeeding. Practices like immediate skin to skin, no separation from baby for routine procedures, rooming in with baby, and breastfeeding based on baby’s cues all help breastfeeding get off to the best start possible, and can continue in most cases. Also ask about policies for having a support person present during and after birth.

Being pregnant and giving birth during a global pandemic adds many layers of stress. There are resources available for mental health support during this difficult time. Alberta Health Services has a list of resources here. Many family doctors and psychologists are offering telehealth appointments. Facebook groups, such as the ASAC Community Group may be a helpful place to find some support and solidarity from others going through this difficult time.

We are available for breastfeeding assistance, including relactation (a return to breastfeeding after stopping) and increasing milk production. Visit our Services page for more information. We have an online Breastfeeding Basics Workshop on May 1, and an online Comprehensive Breastfeeding Class on May 15 & 16. Email kirsten@lactopialactation.ca with any questions.

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