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COVID-19 and breastfeeding

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, current evidence suggests that breast milk isn’t likely to spread the virus to babies. Here’s what you need to know.

Baby looks at mom while breastfeeding

Breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic

Though researchers are not 100 percent certain that COVID-19 cannot pass from mother to baby via breast milk, most studies show that breastfeeding:

  • Is safe, regardless if the mother has COVID-19
  • Remains the best source of nutrition for most babies
  • Helps protect babies from infections (e.g., infections of the ears, lungs, and digestive system)

Having COVID-19, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists,1 “should not stop you from giving your baby breast milk.”

The CDC2 separately echoes the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and adds that pregnant people should keep in mind that they:

  • Are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people
  • May be at increased risk for other adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth

If you have COVID-19, to help avoid passing the infection to your baby:

  • Use a face mask or covering when holding your baby, including during feeding – NEVER put a mask or covering over a baby’s face
  • Wash your hands before touching:
    • Your baby
    • Any breast pump or bottle parts – and clean all pump and bottle parts after use
  • Consider asking someone who doesn’t have COVID-19 help you care for your baby, such as by bottle-feeding your breast milk to your baby after you pump

Helpful tips for breastfeeding

The CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggest breastfeeding people keep in mind the following:

  • If you plan to breastfeed, talk with your ob-gyn or other health care professional before you deliver, so you get a breast pump before your baby is born
  • Frequent hand expression or pumping, ideally with a hospital-grade pump, will help you establish and build milk supply if you are separated from your newborn
  • Pump or feed every 2-3 hours (at least 8-10 times in 24 hours, including at night), especially in the first few days
  • Wash your hands with soap and water (or a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol) for 20 seconds before breastfeeding or expressing breast milk even if you don’t have COVID-19

Consider getting help from a lactation support provider if you:

  • Cannot establish milk production in the hospital after birth
  • Have to temporarily stop breastfeeding during a COVID-19 illness because you do not feel well enough

Moms First program

We know all moms need help before and after giving birth.

Our Moms First program:

  • Is for our pregnant enrollees
  • Includes rewards through Go365 for Humana Healthy Horizons for going to the doctor and getting certain screenings and shots, and also a portable crib for each baby you have
  • Provides support and education about breastfeeding
  • Provides the help we know you need before and after you give birth
  • And more!

Our Moms First enrollees also can get a free breast pump, once your OB/GYN submits doctors order to a Durable Medical Equipment (DME) provider.

Learn more about our Moms First program, including how to enroll.

Pacify

You also can sign up for a free Pacify membership.

Pacify is a smartphone app that connects you with:

  • Pacify Lactation Consultants: Available 24/7 via video to offer breastfeeding support and answer other feeding-related questions
  • Humana Healthy Horizons in Kentucky Nurse Line: Available 24/7 via phone to help if you or your baby are feeling under the weather
  • Humana Healthy Horizons in Kentucky Enrollee Services: Available Monday to Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. via phone to help with benefits, finding a doctor, and/or scheduling an appointment
  • Behavioral Health Crisis Line: Available 24/7 via phone to help with behavioral health
  • Quit Smoking Coaches: Available Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., via phone to help you quit smoking

You do not need to make an appointment. You can call as often as you need support.

After enrolling in our Moms First program, use the self-guided Pacify registration process, opens new window to get started.

1 Coronavirus (COVID-19), Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding: A Message for Patients. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Reviewed by Lisa Hollier, MD, MPH, FACOG. Last updated November 6, 2020. Last accessed December 10, 2020. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/coronavirus-covid-19-pregnancy-and-breastfeeding, opens new window

2 COVID-19 and pregnancy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last updated November 3, 2020. Last accessed December 10, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html, opens new window

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