Concerns over breastfeeding with COVID-19 continue to create a dilemma for nursing mothers who are infected with the disease. In August of 2020, a study published in the Lancet forecasted a widespread reduction in hospital services for breastfeeding — a prediction that proved to be accurate.
As of November of last year, the CDC reports that, during the pandemic, nearly 18 percent of hospitals reported decreased access to in-person lactation support and nearly 73 percent discharged mothers and newborns less than 48 hours after birth. After discharge, only 60 percent of hospitals offered in-person breastfeeding consultations and less than 49 percent offered virtual breastfeeding consultations. Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 70 percent of hospitals reported that their exclusive breastfeeding rates during hospitalization had stayed about the same. The aforementioned Lancet study asserted that universal breastfeeding could prevent 823,000 child deaths per year.
While the risk of transmitting COVID-19 through breast milk is relatively low, there is enduring concern about transferring the virus through respiratory droplets while breastfeeding. It is recommended that nursing mothers continue to follow CDC guidelines for infection control to keep themselves and their babies safe.