HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — The Pennsylvania Department of Health are encouraging people who are breastfeeding or chestfeeding to take proper steps to protect themselves during the COVID-19 pandemic, so their babies can get the essential nutrients needed to develop and stay healthy.
“Breastmilk contains antibodies that fight infection and boost the baby’s immune system. If a mother or baby become sick, the best thing the mother can do is continue breastfeeding to provide her baby with human antibodies,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said.
The Department of Health is recommending breastfeeding mothers who have tested positive for COVID-19 and choose to breastfeed and/or express breast milk should:
- Wear a cloth face covering while feeding and during expression of milk;
- Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before each feeding, before touching any pump or bottle parts, and before expressing breast milk;
- Use a dedicated breast pump (not shared);
- Follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use; and
- If possible, expressed breast milk should be fed to the infant by a healthy caregiver who does not have COVID-19, is not at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and is living in the same home.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusively breastfeeding for first six months of a baby’s life and continued breastfeeding with complementary foods until the baby is one year old.
The department also suggests the ideal setting to care for a healthy, full-term newborn during the birth hospitalization is within the mother’s room.