Can you still breastfeed if you have COVID-19?


Health officials say there are ways to keep your newborn safe

A newborn baby is pictured on a changing table, on June 5, 2001, in the maternity department of the Franco-British hospital in Levallois-Perret. (DIDIER PALLAGES/AFP via Getty Images)

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — If you have COVID-19 and a new baby at home, health officials say current evidence suggests that breast milk is not likely to spread the virus to babies.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with COVID-19 who continue to breastfeed should wash their hands before breastfeeding and wear a mask while breastfeeding, including whenever you are within 6 feet of your baby.

The CDC says people with COVID-19 choosing to express breast milk should use their own breast pump that is not shared with anyone else, if possible. Other suggestions include wearing a mask while pumping and washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before touching any pump or bottle parts.

“Do not put a face shield or mask on your baby,” said the CDC on its website. “A face shield or mask could increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or accidental suffocation and strangulation.”

Until your COVID-19 isolation has ended, the agency recommends having a healthy caregiver who is fully vaccinated and not at higher risk for severe illness provide care for your newborn.

“When your isolation period has ended, you should still wash your hands before caring for your newborn, but you do not need to take the other precautions,” added the agency’s website. “You most likely will not pass the virus to your newborn or any other close contacts after your isolation period has ended.”

According to the Oregon Health Authority, most newborns of people who had COVID-19 during pregnancy do not have COVID-19 when they are born. However, some newborns have tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after birth.

“We don’t know if these newborns got the virus before, during, or after birth,” said Jonathan Modie, an OHA spokesperson. “Most newborns who tested positive for COVID-19 had mild or no symptoms and recovered. Reports say some newborns developed severe COVID-19 illness.”

For more information about breastfeeding or caring for your newborn while having COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control’s website.

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