August is World Breastfeeding Awareness Month!
Each August, National WIC Breastfeeding Week is celebrated in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Month to promote and support breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for a baby’s first year of life. It is usually filled with breastfeeding walks, community latch events, and baby showers. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s celebrations will undoubtedly look different, but there are many virtual ways to show support. World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) has many ideas on their website, to learn more visit: www.waba.org.my/waba.
To show your support online, use #WBW2020, #WICbreastfeeding, or #BreastfeedingMoms in your social media posts to help raise awareness. While many mothers are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding, many are now wondering if it’s safe to breastfeed.
Is breastfeeding and expressed breast milk feeding safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?
According to the latest information, the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the low risk of COVID-19 transmission. We do know that breast milk can protect your baby against many infections, and strengthens their immune system.
But what if mom has COVID-19?
To date, there is no evidence that COVID-19 is passed from mother to baby in breast milk. Breastfeeding has been shown to be safe when a mom as other illnesses, such as the flu.
Mothers can choose to start or continue to nurse using stringent hand washing before feeding baby and wearing a mask. If she chooses to express her milk, again using thorough hand washing before handling the breast pump and parts, and when possible, have a trusted care giver feed the baby. Follow proper guidelines for cleaning the breast pump. You can learn more about cleaning breast pumps by clicking here.
According to the CDC:
“Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants. We do not know whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus via breast milk, but the limited data available suggest this is not likely. 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 should be counseled to take precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including hand washing and wearing a cloth face covering.”
Remember breastfeeding is a key preventive health step for baby and mother, even during the pandemic. Talk with your pediatrician about how to keep your baby healthy and what resources might be available in your community to help you.
Families are encouraged to stay up to date about this situation as we learn more about to prevent this virus from spreading in homes and in communities.
Written by: Melissa Merlo, IBCLC. Melissa is a Lactation Consultant with Community First Health Centers’ WIC program. To learn more about the services provided by WIC, including breastfeeding support call 586-749-5173 ext. 232.