Health officials say there are ways to keep your newborn safe
SALEM, Oregon (KOIN) — If you have COVID-19 and a new baby at home, health officials say current evidence suggests breast milk is unlikely to spread the virus to babies.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with COVID-19 who continue to breastfeed should wash their hands before breastfeeding and wear a mask while breastfeeding, including when you are within 6 feet of your baby.
The CDC says that people with COVID-19 who choose to express breast milk should use their own breast pump that, if possible, is not shared with anyone else. Other suggestions include wearing a mask while expressing and washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before handling any pump or bottle parts.
“Don’t put a face shield or mask on your baby,” the CDC says on its website. “A face shield or mask may increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or accidental suffocation and strangulation.”
Until your COVID-19 isolation has ended, the agency recommends that a healthy caregiver who is fully vaccinated and at no higher risk of serious illness care for your newborn.
“Once your isolation period is over, you should still wash your hands before caring for your newborn, but you don’t need to take any other precautions,” the agency adds. “You most likely will not pass the virus on to your newborn or other close contacts after your isolation period has ended.”
According to the Oregon Health Authority, most newborns of those who had COVID-19 during pregnancy do not have COVID-19 at birth. However, some newborns have tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after birth.
“We don’t know if these newborns got the virus before, during or after birth,” said Jonathan Modie, an OHA spokesperson. “Most newborns who tested positive for COVID-19 had mild or no symptoms and recovered. Reports say some newborns developed severe COVID-19 illness.