Pregnant people do not appear to be more susceptible to the consequences of COVID-19 than the general population. In general, a person who is pregnant may be more vulnerable to getting infections than a person of their age who is not pregnant. It is for this reason that pregnant people should protect themselves using the guidelines for general infection prevention and control. Find more information on these measures on the COVID-19 Stop the Spread page.
Breastfeeding can and should continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, while taking the appropriate precautions for infection prevention and control.
Breastfeeding is emergency preparedness. It provides infants and young children with strong protection against infectious disease and death, and it offers secure access to food. There are rare exceptions when breastfeeding or feeding expressed breast milk is not recommended.
Information about COVID-19 transmission is emerging daily. For up to date information for parents and caregivers, visit the SafelyFed Canada COVID-19 resources.
The World Health Organization currently recommends: “Breastfeeding should be initiated within 1 hour of birth. Exclusive breastfeeding should continue for 6 months with timely introduction of adequate, safe and properly fed complementary foods at age 6 months, while continuing breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond. Because there is a dose-response effect, in that earlier initiation of breastfeeding results in greater benefits, mothers who are not able to initiate breastfeeding during the first hour after delivery should still be supported to breastfeed as soon as they are able.”
How to Protect and Support Mom and Baby
- After the baby is born, everyone will be excited to meet the new addition to the family. However, at this time the new parents should limit visitors to help protect their baby and themselves.
- New grandparents, family members or close friends may want to visit with the new baby, and sometimes can provide the much needed support that new parents require during the first years of the baby’s life.
- If there are any visitors, they should:
- Limit the number and length of visits.
- Wash their hands on arrival and frequently throughout the visit.
- Physical distance 2 metres from parent and baby.
- Self-monitor for 2 weeks before the visit if they work in an area of increased COVID-19 contact/exposure.
- Avoid visiting if they are not feeling well, or suspect they have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19.
- People providing regular support to help the parents with the new baby or young child should follow How to Build your Social Circle to ensure that it is done in a safe manner.
- It is important to remember that the final decision to have visitors or help from others is up to the new parent(s) on how they would like coordinate the support they need with the baby.
- Events, such as baby showers, help to celebrate the new baby either before or after the baby is born. At this time, you may want to postpone such social gatherings, or ensure that the number of guests are limited to follow the social gathering guidelines. All guests should be asked to wash their hands upon arrival and throughout the visit, and should be asked to avoid visiting the baby if they are not feeling well, have travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days or suspect they have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. Mom and baby together, should physically distance themselves 2 metres from the guests at all times.
- Creative ways using social media and other cyber connections, such as FaceTime and Skype, can also be used to share the joys of your new arrival.
- For any questions or concerns related to newborn or infant care, please feel free to contact the Healthy Babies Healthy Children Program at (807) 625-8814.
- Pregnancy, childbirth and caring for newborns: advice for mothers (COVID-19) (Public Health Agency of Canada)
- Society of Obestetricians and Gynaecologiest of Canada (SOGC)
- Know, Prepare, Protect: Information on COVID-19 for Pregnant Women (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control)
- Pregnancy and Breastfeeding (United States Centre for Disease Control)
- Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Statement on COVID-19
- COVID-19 Guideline for Lactation for Women/Individuals Who Are Confirmed or Suspect Cases of COVID-19 (BC Centre for Disease Control)
- Statement on Breastfeeding and Lactation Support during the COVID-19 Pandemic (International Lactation Consultant Association)
- World Health Organization Q&A on COVID-19, Pregnancy, Childbirth and Breastfeeding