COVID-19, Breastfeeding & The CDC
Updated: Aug 23, 2021
About a month after my daughter was born, I caught viral bronchitis. It was the worst. I couldn't stop coughing. I was achy, and I wanted to sleep all day long. My biggest priority, of course, was trying to make sure that my tiny human stayed healthy during the time I recovered. I was terrified that she would get sick, but I knew the best defense I had to help her stay safe was my breastmilk.
Breastfeeding her also helped me feel better— I believe this was partially due to over frequently producing milk and feeling engorged (my letdown reflex allowed for the release I needed). According to the CDC, "A mother’s breast milk contains antibodies and other immunological factors that can help protect her infant from flu and is the recommended source of nutrition for the infant, even while the mother is ill." I would be interested to see if one day the CDC releases information specifically around the release of those antibodies in breastmilk when a baby is breastfeeding and how it helps the mother recover from illness more quickly.
Just to be clear, I am not comparing my breastfeeding experience with viral bronchitis to breastfeeding with COVID-19 (there is currently still a lot of unknowns about this new illness). But, becoming sick under any circumstance (especially with a tiny human) is never fun. I wanted to share my insight to help try and alleviate any worries about being sick while breastfeeding that new moms may have.
The power of breastmilk is unrivaled. If you've never seen this video you should check it out, "She Compared Breast Milk To Formula Under A Microscope -- Here's What She Saw."
This is a personal choice, and one you should also make as a mother, but I decided to continue to breastfeed instead of pump when I was had viral bronchitis. You can take a completely different approach! The CDC had some really great suggestions about breastfeeding to help mama's out in the case they do get sick (see article here):
1. In the case you do not wish to expose your tiny human, you can pump and create breastmilk bottles while you recover.
2.You can wear a mask to minimize breathing on your baby.
3. If you do use a pump, be sure to clean it thoroughly.
4. Wash your hands frequently and often.
Be sure and ask your pediatricians any questions you might have, and above all, make sure to take care of yourself and your little one(s).