Should I continue to breastfeed my baby?
Unicef: There is a wealth of evidence that breastfeeding reduces the risk of babies developing infectious diseases. To facilitate breastfeeding, mothers and babies should be enabled to stay together as much as possible, to have skin-to-skin contact, to feed their baby responsively and to have access to ongoing support when this is needed.
What do the experts say?
Public Health England (PHE) guidance: If you are breastfeeding while infected, there is currently no clinical evidence to suggest that the virus can be transmitted through breastmilk. Infection can be spread to the baby in the same way as to anyone in close contact with you. The benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of the virus through breastmilk or by being in close contact with your child, however, this will be an individual decision and can be discussed with your midwife, health visitor or GP by telephone.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists make the following recommendations
If you wish to breastfeed, take precautions to limit the potential spread of Covid-19 to the baby by:
- washing your hands before touching the baby, breast pump or bottles
- avoiding coughing or sneezing on the baby while feeding at the breast
- cleaning any breast pump as recommended by the manufacturer after each use
- considering asking someone who is well to feed your expressed breastmilk to the baby.
Can I get back to exclusive breastfeeding?
If you breastfeeding and using infant formula, consider replacing formula feeds with breastfeeds, but talk to a professional first about how to do that safely. If breastfeeding has been stopped, it is possible to re-start breastfeeding (contact the National Breastfeeding Helpline for assistance or speak to your health visitor or contact our Advice Line.
If you are feeding with formula or expressed milk, follow sterilisation guidelines carefully before each use. You should not share bottles or a breast pump with someone else.
I am concerned about supplies of Formula milk – what should I do?
The UK government has advised that people should plan ahead on what is needed for self-isolation in the specified time frame only and not to stockpile essentials like infant formula.
If you are concerned, or require specific information, all infant formula companies can be contacted via their careline services. To order milk if you are unable to obtain in in the supermarket you can phone your local pharmacy or you can contact the infant formula milk companies and order online.
There have been claims that some infant formula companies are making free provisions to those unable to gain access to infant formula. This is not the approach of any infant formula company in the UK currently.
Tips to help:
- Speak to your health visitor if you have problems accessing formula, or have any questions. Please contact the 0-19 advice line on 01883 340 922.
- You can change between brands of first infant milk; they all have to meet the same strict rules on composition.
- Only make up as much milk as you need, and ensure you pace the feed.
- Do not give follow on milk to babies under 6 months old
- Never water down your baby’s milk to make it last longer as this will not provide sufficient nutrition to your child.
Healthy Start vouchers
If you are pregnant or have a child under four years old you could get Healthy Start vouchers to help buy some basic foods.