Feeding your Baby during the Pandemic - Breastfeeding

During the coronavirus outbreak, continue breastfeeding, even if you were considering weaning, it is best to postpone weaning from breastmilk until after this pandemic is passed.

Along with the social limitations and transmission safety precautions the government has put in place, feeding your child breastmilk is another way to keep them safe and healthy during the current COVID-19 pandemic, as well as during bouts of any illness.

Transmission and Breastmilk or Human Milk:
"Person-to-person spread is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza (flu) and other respiratory pathogens spread." (Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2020)

In limited studies including women with SARS, the virus has not been detected in breastmilk, however, it is not known whether mothers with COVID-19 can transmit the virus via breastmilk. In a recent, but small study in China, a group of six mothers testing positive for COVID-19 were studied after giving birth. No evidence of the virus was found in their samples of breastmilk, cord blood, amniotic fluid or throat swabs of their newborns (Chen et al., 2020).

Breastfeeding Safety:
The immunological properties of human milk protect babies against many illnesses. Breastfeeding mothers should follow these CDC guidelines: "Whether and how to start or continue breastfeeding should be determined by the mother in coordination with her family and healthcare providers. A mother with confirmed COVID-19 or who is a symptomatic person under investigation should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including washing her hands before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible, while feeding at the breast. If expressing breast milk with a manual or electric breast pump, the mother should wash her hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use. If possible, consider having someone who is well feed the expressed breast milk to the infant." (Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2020)

Seeking Breastmilk?
If you are in need of breastmilk, a Milk Bank is a good resource.
Mother's Milk Bank of Montana
If you have a trusted family member or close friend who has extra breastmilk, screening this mother for illness symptoms is advised before sharing breastmilk.

It is possible to re-establish lactation and breastfeeding; see your lactation specialist for more information.

For more information regarding breastfeeding, visit our lactation page.

Feeding your Baby during the Pandemic - Formula


Do not feed homemade formula to babies; seek help instead

Money is tight and you're low on baby formula. Should you try that homemade formula recipe you saw online?
The answer is: No.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is warning parents not to feed homemade formula to infants. Babies should be fed only breastmilk or iron-fortified infant formula that has been prepared according to the directions on the package. Homemade formula can harm infants. Do not feed infants the following:
  • Homemade formula with ingredients like powdered cow's milk, raw milk or sugar; plain cow's milk; or milk substitutes like almond or soy milk. They do not have the balance of ingredients.
  • Imported infant formula. It might have too much or not enough of some ingredients. If it was not stored or shipped correctly, it could be unsafe to use.
  • Watered-down formula. It provides an unbalanced diet and can cause serious growth problems.
What should I do if I cannot afford formula?
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC): Mothers who qualify based on income can enroll in WIC to receive vouchers for formula: https://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/wic-how-apply
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): You can use your SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer card (formerly called food stamps) to buy formula. If you are enrolled in WIC, you also might qualify for SNAP.
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF): This program offers temporary cash assistance to qualified families. Locate your state TANF program at https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ofa/help
Where can I get help if I do not qualify for benefits? Taken from: AAP News: https://www.aappublications.org/news/2019/02/25/homemadeformu-lapp022519?fbclid=IwAR3uscrasehpTlCBj43a1EVBKUgKUIPALCnIZS_AKWKMHW4dKU8drv9Cp9I

Additional Resources