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How safe is breastfeeding during COVID-19?

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Posted at 4:11 PM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 18:11:28-04

COVID-19 can be transmitted from person to person, usually after close contact with an infected patient. Since breastfeeding your baby is a very close and intimate practice, we wanted to know if a child could become infected through breast milk.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC), if you're breastfeeding and have COVID-19 or symptoms of the virus, there are steps you can take to prevent the spread of the virus to your child.

Trisha Gardner of the City-County Health Department in Great Falls, said, "If she really doesn't feel comfortable breastfeeding her baby during that time, an option would be to have her express that or pump her milk and have somebody that's healthy feed that baby her breast milk."

That's where milk banks become an option. We spoke with Jessica Welborn, executive director of Mother's Milk Bank of Montana . She explained that even before COVID-19, they had strict sanitization guidelines.

"Before COVID-19, we have really strict procedures and policies in place. We pasteurize all our milk in a lab on-site...anybody pasteurizing milk has to wear a lab coat, a face mask, gloves, some eye protection or eye covering," said Welborn.

She also said that with the amount of time that it takes for COVID to show up, they have no way of knowing if breastmilk can be infected. "There is no way to completely ensure that COVID-19 never entered through a milk bank or an employee or through someone's donor milk. That being said, there is absolutely no evidence thus far to show that COVID-19 can pass through breast milk."

The CCHD can offer consultation and advice for new mothers; you can call them at 406-454-6953, or email wic@cascadecountymt.gov .

You can also click here for more breastfeeding information and resources on the CCHD website .