Breastfeeding with concerns about COVID-19 can be quite nerve-racking. It is important to realize that a healthy, breastfeeding mom can take comfort in the fact that nothing needs to change. Therefore, you should remain vigilant about hand hygiene, as always, and carry on.
There is limited information on this topic, but to date, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted to an infant through breast milk. The main concern is that you might pass on the virus (or any other respiratory virus) through prolonged intimate contact, such as breastfeeding, as the virus is thought to spread through the droplets produced when an ill person coughs or sneezes. If you have a cough and fever, you should practice hand hygiene and express milk to prevent possible transmission to your baby. A healthy caregiver should feed the baby from a bottle. If it’s not possible, the mother should wear a facemask, practice hand hygiene, and feed the infant, either at the breast or using the bottle. In addition, mothers should wash and dry any item the infant may touch during feeding.
If you are in an unlikely situation where you test positive for COVID-19 but are asymptomatic, there is no official recommendation about breastfeeding. Out of an abundance of caution, I recommend that you wear a mask and maintain excellent hand hygiene, including washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
A public health official reminded me that many times people (this goes beyond breastfeeding) wear masks but take the mask off by grabbing the front, which might increase the chances of contamination. It is important to remove the mask by handling the portion over the ear when taking it on and off.
Of course, if you have any confusion about what to do, we urge you to contact your healthcare provider to discuss your specific situation. Also, consult the CDC website for more information or changes to recommendations. Hope this helps!