Breastfeeding — an opportunity to hold, share a special space with and bond with your baby — provides a bounty of benefits for both you and your child.
A breastfeeding mother recovers from childbirth more easily, loses postpartum pounds more quickly and may have a reduced risk for some conditions and diseases, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and breast and ovarian cancers.
Nursing gives your baby the nutrients needed for proper growth and development, boosting the immune system and protecting against obesity, many infections and chronic diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from asthma, type 1 diabetes, diarrhea, vomiting, ear infections, severe lower respiratory disease and sudden infant death syndrome.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend breastfeeding exclusively during your infant’s first six months — and longer as you add the appropriate solid foods.
Breastfeeding Safety During the Pandemic
Whether you are healthy or are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, you can feel confident about breastfeeding your baby during the pandemic. WHO maintains that the benefits of breastfeeding far outweigh potential risks of transmission and that mothers should continue to breastfeed whether or not they are Covid-19 positive.
It’s important to follow handwashing guidelines prior to and after breastfeeding your child, regardless of whether you have Covid-19. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. In the absence of soap and water, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60-percent alcohol. Clean and disinfect surfaces around you. If you have Covid-19, wear a mask when breastfeeding.
If you don’t feel well enough to nurse your baby, consider pumping and storing your breastmilk for later. Your partner can also help with the feedings.
Expressing your breastmilk is essential to maintaining milk production, so you can breastfeed when you’re feeling better. It also may help prevent clogged milk ducts and breast infections. Remember to wash your hands before and after pumping, and to clean breast pumps and storage containers after use.
Contact your healthcare provider if you have any questions regarding breastfeeding. If you have difficulty breastfeeding, your provider can recommend a lactation consultant.