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16 April 2020, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
(Update to our media release of 19 February 2020, and subsequent Breastfeeding and Coronavirus resources published 4 March, revised 12 and 27 March)
Many people have asked for information updates from La Leche League International (LLLI) regarding coronavirus in relation to childbirth and breastfeeding. We continue to emphasize the critical importance of breastfeeding all babies whether newly born or older and whether someone has tested positive for COVID-19 or not. Being knowledgeable about the benefits of breastfeeding and risks of not breastfeeding is important for families as they make childbirth and infant feeding decisions.
Breastfeeding is the best means of protecting a baby from getting sick or of reducing the severity of a baby’s illness if a baby does become ill.
LLLI supports the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation for breastfeeding immediately after birth even when a positive COVID-19 test has been obtained. Breastfeeding is important for an infant who is born to anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 or who has a close family member who has tested positive. It is critical that all newborns be supported in breastfeeding within one hour after birth so they can benefit from the immunological components that colostrum provides.
If someone who is breastfeeding becomes ill, it is important not to interrupt breastfeeding unless it becomes medically necessary. When any member of the family has been exposed, the infant has been exposed. Any interruption of breastfeeding may actually increase the infant’s risk of becoming ill and even of becoming severely ill.
Mothers who become too ill to breastfeed should be supported in expressing or pumping so that the baby can still be given the milk. If that is not possible, donor milk is recommended by the WHO as the next best feeding option, as donor milk will contain immunological components not available in human milk substitutes. Information about relactation should be offered, along with support to help get the baby back to the breast when health improves.
The WHO has issued updated information related to pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding for anyone who tests positive for COVID-19. That information may be found at: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-on-covid-19-pregnancy-childbirth-and-breastfeeding
LLLI encourages families to make informed decisions based on reliable information and discussions with knowledgeable professionals.
Sources of information will be provided at the following link: https://llli.org/covid-19-references/
We will update these resources as new information becomes available. Please check back for updates frequently.