COVID-19, postpartum, and breastfeeding: Your questions answered

The coronavirus pandemic has left us all with a lot of questions. Here, the Ovia Health clinical team answers your questions about COVID-19, postpartum, and breastfeeding.

If I am infected with COVID-19 during delivery, what will happen to my baby after delivery?

If you are suspected of or are confirmed to have COVID-19 during your delivery, your baby will likely undergo testing to confirm their infection status and will be isolated from other healthy infants while receiving their normal newborn care[2].

Can I breastfeed and have skin-to-contact with my baby if I am infected with COVID-19?

There are currently no known cases where COVID-19 virus has been transmitted through breast milk[3, 4], so breast milk itself is safe to feed your baby. 

Experts believe that it is reasonable to directly breastfeed your baby with proper precautions, such as wearing a mask and washing hands thoroughly [5]. We know that with other illnesses, you pass antibodies to your baby through your breast milk. Antibodies are what your body makes to help fight off illness. However, we currently have very limited evidence [6] that can prove that this would be true with COVID-19 antibodies specifically.

Rooming-in and skin-to-skin contact are still recommended. While it is the birthing parent’s choice how to participate in these practices, there are many benefits, including better breastfeeding, temperature control, blood sugar, and parent-child bonding. Still, it is very important to wear a mask over your mouth and nose, and clean your hands frequently.

Will my postpartum hospital experience be different than usual with COVID-19 restrictions?

While it varies with each hospital and each state, most hospitals are strictly limiting the number of visitors for patients. Prior to delivering, you may want to check what the policy is for your place of delivery and make plans that are suited to your needs, which might include bringing a laptop or tablet to video chat with relatives or loved ones during your stay. Additionally, depending on your and your baby’s health, you may be able to request an early discharge as a means to prevent inadvertent exposure to COVID-19. Some hospitals are offering early discharges up to one day after a vaginal birth and two days following a cesarean section[7]. 

Will I be separated from my baby if I have COVID-19?

Mothers who are COVID-19 positive should NOT be separated from their baby at delivery [8]. Early on in the pandemic, experts had recommended separating babies from infected parents. In light of more information, that guidance has changed. Parents and babies should stay together according to groups including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), ACOG, CDC and WHO. 

If you have concerns about your particular situation, please bring them up with your healthcare provider, and make sure you fully understand all the risks and benefits.

What about my postpartum appointments? Should I still attend those?

Yes, you should still attend your appointments in order to get important postpartum care, including incision or wound checks, mental health assessments, and birth control planning. That said, many outpatient care providers are modifying postpartum visits to prevent potential COVID-19 exposures. Your provider may request that your appointment(s) be done via telehealth, particularly if you are not experiencing any alarming or worrisome symptoms. Mental health, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, is a major postpartum concern and standard perinatal depression screeners can be completed at home. In-office visits may still be necessary for those with underlying conditions, wound infections, or in the presence of other concerning symptoms.

Learn more about the coronavirus

Updated December 4, 2020

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