Coronavirus and Breastfeeding
COVID UPDATE – JANUARY 2022
It’s early 2022 and much has changed since our first Breastfeeding and COVID article was written almost 2 years ago. But first, let’s talk about what hasn’t changed. Breastfeeding is still optimal nutrition for your little one, and confers a lot of protection against various illness. We still recommend breastfeeding even if a mother is positive for COVID-19 as spread of the virus from breastfeeding mothers to babies is demonstrated to be low. Because COVID-19 is spread via respiratory droplets, it’s important that if a mother has respiratory symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and runny nose that she wear a mask if possible when close to the baby, as during breastfeeding, to avoid spread. If a mother is expressing milk for her baby, follow good hand hygiene and proper washing and disinfecting techniques of all pump parts and bottles.
The good news is that ongoing data shows that the virus causing COVID-19 is not transmitted via breastmilk. And there is a lot of good data showing that the COVID vaccine is safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, and that antibodies against COVID-19 are transmitted in utero and via breastfeeding after vaccination.
The antibodies transmitted via breastmilk are called IgA. These stay in the infant’s GI tract and don’t enter their blood stream. They get broken down by the infant’s digestion, so the more often the baby is breastfeeding, the more protection they have. This is why there is probably limited protection for older children that might get occasional breastmilk (say, once a day).
At the Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh, we remain open for business as we have been since the pandemic began in 2020. We are still cleaning well, wearing masks, and our staff are all fully vaccinated. You are welcome to bring one support person to your visit. Most of all, we are honored to help you meet your breastfeeding goals during this very challenging time.
Here are some great resources about the COVID vaccine and breastfeeding:
Dr. Amy Maddalenais the Medical Director of our Breastfeeding Center of Pittsburgh.