Can I breastfeed if I have Coronavirus?

It's official Coronavirus (COVID-19) has begun to spread all around the world. Panic and fear of the of the virus is disrupting our Facebook news feed and for goodness sake Costco has run out of toilet paper. But not rotisserie chickens or street tacos. Phew. You can sleep tonight. 

So why are people so freaked out? Well we've seen the virus spread like wild fire in China and now cases are popping up in other countries affecting people who report that they were never in contact with a sick person. Are you freaking out yet? I confess as I write about this sneaky illness I get a bit worried, but alas I am choosing to turn off the panic button in my brain and turn on the logic. And as a bonus I have enlisted the help of my family physician husband Dr. Ryan Dick to help me write this blog and give you info to ease your mind. 

Facts about Coronavirus

This is what we know as of right now. Early March 2020. 

What is Coronavirus? It is a virus similar to influenza. Common symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath which can appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. In so many ways it is not dramatically different than influenza.

Most of the people who get it do not suffer serious complications. We are also seeing that children are less likely to get the virus and it they do it is very mild according to health officials in China. Those children who do get very sick are those with underlying health complications and weakened immune systems. 

The elderly and adults with weakened immune systems also appear to be the most at risk for suffering severe complications from the virus. The good news is that most adults that contract it seem to be recovery well. 

Breastfeeding and Coronavirus

Since Coronavirus is a very new illness, health officials are gaining new information and insight about it literally everyday.  As of right now, Coronavirus has not been detected in breast milk. Yay!! According to UNICEF and the CDC mothers should continue to give their child breast milk even if they have tested positive for the virus. Everyone agrees that breastfeeding has tremendous benefits for baby's health. However, if a mother has tested positive she should take extra precautions to prevent the spread to baby. 

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before breastfeeding or pumping and handling your baby.
  • If possible, express your breast milk and have a healthy individual feed your baby via bottle, cup, or spoon. 
  •  If baby refuses bottles and mother needs to nurse, wear a mask is possible.  
  • Try to limit time with baby during non-feeding times. 

If you do notice that your baby is beginning to show symptoms such as fever, cough, or change in appetite, make sure to contact your healthcare provider right away. 

And moms, remember this. If you are the only one home with your baby and are sick, just try your best. Continue to wash your hands often, if you find yourself coughing a lot, try turn your head away from baby and cough into your elbow. Better yet, if you find yourself in the midst of a coughing fit, leave the room. 

Remember, it's fine to be a "just ok" parent for a few days. Turn on the TV, eat Mac n' Cheese, do what you need to make it through this illness. 

And if you are sick or other family members are, remember to drink LOTS of fluids and rest. If the your cough is really bothersome, go stand in a hot shower for a little bit. This is our family's go-to trick for our daughter when she is sick and her virus induced asthma kicks in.

Lastly, if you have come into contact with someone who has TESTED positive for the coronavirus, call your health care provider right away. If your symptoms include dehydration, fever that can't be controlled by medication, or a dramatically worsening cough- again, give your health provider a call to figure out next steps.  They would rather have you call sooner than waiting until you need to go to the hospital. 

I hope everyone stays healthy!!!


P.S and disclaimer. Even though the advice comes with help from my hubby, it does not take the place of the spectacular medical advice you will from your physician.  





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