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Episode 13: COVID-19 and Breastfeeding

, , April 8, 2020

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Jacqueline Kincer  00:39

Welcome back to another episode of the breastfeeding talk podcast. I’m your host, Jacqueline Kincer. And we interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you a very, very special episode of Breastfeeding Talk. This one in particular is going to be focused on COVID-19 and breastfeeding.


So a lot of you might be asking the question, Why are you only now releasing an episode like this? And I’m going to explain why. The reason why is, that the full title of my podcast is Breastfeeding Talk: Milk, Motherhood and Mindset. And the one thing that I didn’t want to do was to join the conversation of panic around COVID-19.


I actually wanted to keep releasing my scheduled episodes and interviews during this time to give you a place of solace to give you something that wasn’t going to be the barrage of news that you were probably already subjecting yourself to. And so for that reason, I just continued to release the episodes that I planned on releasing so that if you wanted to hear information about breastfeeding, then you got that information.


Now, I do want to assure you that this episode is absolutely chock full of some information about breastfeeding, some things that you actually may not even know. And so I’m really looking forward to sharing that with you today.


Now, before we dive in, what I am going to talk about are the recommendations for breastfeeding mothers during this pandemic.


And I’m going to be answering the question that I get asked a lot, which is, how can I actually get help during this time. And also, if you have questions like is this the right time to wean my baby or my child.


So what I do want to spend a fair amount of time talking about though, is COVID-19, and the recommendations for breastfeeding during this time.


Now, this is something that I’m really, really passionate about. And you might hear me get a little bit fired up in this episode, I’m going to get fired up because I’m passionate about you having the most accurate information possible. And believe me, I have seen my fair share of inaccurate information out there on the internet, and unfortunately, from some very prominent medical organizations.


And so what I’m going to do is to clear the air for you today. And what I’m giving you is my professional opinion as a health care provider, as someone who is a specialist in breastfeeding, specifically trained and board-certified in this topic. And there’s a lot deeper than we could go down the rabbit hole. However, this podcast is for moms, it’s not for professionals. So I’m not going to sit here and use a bunch of Doctor language at you to speak to you in very plain terms so you can have a good understanding and follow along. If you’re looking for deeper information and resources, let me know I’m happy to direct you to those places.


So first and foremost,  I do tend to follow the World Health Organization recommendations when it comes to breastfeeding. And the World Health Organization will talk about their recommendations when it comes to breastfeeding, in general, and formula feeding and all of that will be interwoven throughout this episode.


The reason I default to that is that they’re actually correct when it comes to that topic. Now, there may be some of you out there who have reason to feel that they haven’t been correct about certain things, you’re all entitled to your opinion. But what I’m going to give you is the most factual evidence-based, clinically based, and also biologically based information.


So it’s really, really important to me and paramount that you have accurate information so you yourself can make an informed decision. So the World Health Organization is recommending and has recently put out information on this and updated us on this, that even if you are a mother, you are diagnosed with COVID-19 you should continue breastfeeding your baby.


If you are pregnant, you’re diagnosed and then give birth to a baby and you do have COVID-19 what we recommend is that you breastfeed your baby, you do skin-to-skin with your baby, and that you share the same room with your baby. So the normal recommendations for breastfeeding are actually not being changed at this time.


So even if you test positive for COVID-19 there is no reason to believe that you should stop breastfeeding or not begin breastfeeding your baby. So we want to be very, very clear on that. That’s the recommendation in Nutshell.


Now, I will say this though, the American Academy of Pediatrics came out with an advisory opinion, which is, again, not something that’s evidence-based in any way, it’s an opinion put out by an organization. And they said that they recommend that babies of mothers who are suspected to have COVID-19, and also test positive for COVID-19, that those babies should be treated the same. And what they’re recommending is that they should be separated from their mothers at birth, they should not be allowed to share a room with their mothers, they should be put into a NICU or separate nursery, and those mothers should not be allowed to feed their babies at the breast, they may express milk that can then be given to their infants. But those mothers should not be near their babies.


And I have to tell you, that’s really an unfortunate recommendation. Because I am in touch with the pediatricians that I work with here locally and across the world. And none of them are recommending that any of their patients stop breastfeeding their child. In fact, I have many pediatricians who are doing everything they can to help out,  my clients as well during this time, making sure that well patients are seen first thing in the morning sick ones are saved until the afternoon, and everything is sanitized all of that, only allowing one family inside the opposite of time. You wait in your car until you come in, they’re taking great precautions.


But no one that I know of that I work with, that I collaborate with is recommending the separation of mothers and babies. But for some reason, the AAP, the American Academy of Pediatrics, thinks that this opinion is valid.


Now, I have to say that the problem with that is well one, that it’s an opinion. And two, they don’t have any evidence to back up their opinion.


So my question whenever I see these recommendations are, well, what evidence are you basing that on? If we had seen that a bunch of infants was being born to COVID-19 positive mothers, that they were getting severe respiratory distress, and that they were perhaps even dying because their mothers breastfeed them, there’d have to be an actual causal relationship linked, then I could see that you would create that opinion.


But that isn’t what’s happening. There’s no evidence to support those recommendations that they’re making. There’s no evidence that children born to COVID-19 mothers are in any great danger.


In fact, there is a lot of evidence out there on the benefits of human milk, as well as the skin connection, the mother-baby bonding, to support that, that does wonders for a new baby’s immune system.


And so I’m going to talk about that for just a little bit here. So, let’s just talk about human milk for a second.


So human milk is this incredible substance. And if you’ve been following me for a while, you may have heard me talk about this, but human milk is actually living tissue. It’s actually in a lot of ways its own organ system. And to compare human milk and formula I hate to use the analogy, but it is a lot like apples and oranges. Because the formula is food. Human milk is living tissue that builds your baby’s body, from the inside out, sets up their immune system for life, and is designed to go directly into their bloodstream. And,  it’s filled with stem cells, it’s filled with anti-cancer cells, it’s filled with antibodies, immunoglobulins, other immune factors, plus, obviously nutrition.


And in addition to that, it’s actually filled with something called human milk oligosaccharides, over 200 of which have been discovered so far. And those are there to feed the probiotic bacteria in your baby’s gut. And they don’t actually get digested by your baby, they only get digested by the bacteria in their gut. And that bacteria then goes on to make hormones, neurotransmitters, and vitamins for that baby that cannot be otherwise found in food.


So when we talk about human milk, and we talk about formula, I’m not here to demonize formula, it’s great that we have it when it’s necessary. But keep in mind formulas are only nutrition, it isn’t an immune system. It isn’t anything else other than just pure straight nutrition. That’s it.


So human milk, all of those things. Well, how is that made? How is it that our amazing, incredible motherly bodies are able to create this magical substance that can do what it does?


Well, in the same way, we’re able to grow a child in our body and then birth it out of our body. Right? It’s pretty miraculous when you really think about it.


Now there are a couple of ways that our body knows what to make in breast milk. One is by smelling our babies. Really it’s a polyvagal response. it’s a multi, all five senses, response, and maybe even a sixth sense response. So smelling your baby. It’s important that you don’t put a hat on your baby after birth. First of all, they shouldn’t need a hat. unless for some reason they’re separated from you, but if they’re skin to skin with you, you’re regulating their body temperature by doing skin to skin, and they don’t need to hat, putting a hat on actually blocks the release of certain pheromones and smells from the top of their head, that you are supposed to be smelling as the mother of this new baby. And when you breathe in, and you smell those things, it actually releases oxytocin, which is the hormone that’s responsible for your breasts releasing milk. That includes colostrum. Okay, so it’s very, very important that you get a proper oxytocin stimulation and release for your baby to get enough milk from your breasts.


The other thing that happens when your baby is born is that once the placenta is born out of your body, your progesterone levels drop, which allows your prolactin levels to rise, which allows your milk that you’ve been producing since your second trimester to greatly increase in volume. And that’s what we call your milk coming in.


So, prolactin also is produced by skin to skin and your baby suckling at your breast. One thing that breast pumps don’t do, they provide suction, but they don’t do anything to actually really stimulate the breast in ways other than section.


So for comparison, what I mean by that is that a baby’s mouth is warm, it’s soft, it’s moist, it’s massaging the breast, at the same time that it’s also creating a pressure differential, which we often refer to as suction, but it’s not actually suction, it’s a pressure differential, to draw the milk into their mouth, a pump is purely working on either a pressure differential or suction, it doesn’t do any of those other things. So you’re going to get reduced prolactin secretion, and reduced development of prolactin receptors in your breast, leading to a long-term chronic low milk supply.


So we don’t want that to happen. We want to do everything we can to optimize lactation and breastfeeding for you and your baby. And those critical first hours and days after birth are what set the stage for your breastfeeding success. Now, that doesn’t mean that if for some reason you’re medically necessary or otherwise, that you’re separated from your baby, that you can’t recover from breastfeeding, that you can never successfully do that, you absolutely can, you’re just going to have to work a lot harder.


And there may be some women that no matter what they do, Those first initial days set the stage, and we lost valuable time, and it may now be too late. So we don’t want to put you in that kind of situation. Because we know that early cessation of breastfeeding leads to an increased risk of all kinds of health problems, not to mention the immune deficits that occur.


The other thing that I want to talk about is that if this kind of scenario happens, where you’re separated from your baby, it’s not evidence-based, it’s not for medical necessity, it’s because your doctor followed some opinion put out by an organization that wasn’t based on any evidence. If that happens, okay, now, your baby isn’t getting the amount of milk that they need to thrive in these first few days following birth, they’re going to recommend introducing formula as a supplement.


The problem with that, though, is that your baby’s gut, their intestines, it’s open, they have these things called gap junctions, we all have them, they’re supposed to be open until about six months of age. The reason for that is because the contents of human milk are supposed to go into their gut, through those open gap junctions, and then into their bloodstream, like I said, literally building their body from the inside out.


So those antibodies in your milk are supposed to go straight into your bloodstream. Now, when you introduce something like formula, or anything other than breast milk, and it goes right through that open gut into the bloodstream, well, what does soybean oil do when it’s in the bloodstream? What does cow’s milk protein do when it’s in the bloodstream? What do any of those other ingredients that you may find in infant formula do when they go straight into the bloodstream?


Well, they can actually cause an immune response, they can cause a food sensitivity, which is an immune response, which can ultimately lead to a food allergy.


And by the way, sensitivity and allergy are just part of the same spectrum. They’re not different. They’re just different parts of the spectrum.


So what formula actually does is it further compromises the immune system, because their little body is seeing this as a foreign invader. This is not a human milk-derived substance, it is not expected, their body’s trying to mount an immune response.


The problem with that, though, is that babies generally don’t form their own antibodies until about six months of age. So the body’s trying to find a way to react, it’s going to try to push it out away from the internal organs as quickly as possible. So things like spitting up, diarrhea, odd bowel movements, baby acne, other skin problems, like eczema, those sorts of things. That’s what we’re going to see because the body’s trying to get what it perceives to be as toxic as far away from the internal organs as possible, which means that they’re not properly absorbing the nutrients of the nutrition we’re trying to give them.


So you’re finding a nutrient-deprived baby that now has an immune system that’s trying to work as hard as possible to get this out, and if they continue getting exposed to this up to that six-month mark, they eventually start creating antibodies against it. And now you’re going to have a true food allergy on your hand.  So the last thing we want to do is sensitize the baby to a foreign substance unnecessarily.


Now, if it was just a one-time deal, we do know that there’s evidence that human milk can heal the baby’s gut. It takes about two weeks after one incidence of formula exposure for exclusive breastfeeding to heal the baby’s gut.


So that can happen. However, the damage may already be done, because these things were already introduced into the bloodstream. So you’re kind of rolling the dice on these situations.


Again, this isn’t to say formulas are bad, I’m trying to give you the facts. So you can make an informed decision because this is the reality of what happens on a biological and physiological level.


So if we are separating babies from mothers, reducing the amount of milk or capacity for a mother to make human milk for her baby, we’re increasing the risk of formula exposure, which is further going to dampen their immune system.


And if the baby’s body is busy fighting off formula, well, how well is it going to do fighting off a pathogen? And what it needs from its mother are those critical antibodies.


Now, the other thing that happens here is that skin to skin, looking at your baby, smelling your baby, all of that, and having your baby’s saliva and mouth, touching your breasts all create a feedback loop system. So your baby’s ability to communicate with your body, and what it needs from your milk.


So your milk is tailor-made, it changes from feeding to feeding on the breast to breast, it changes from beginning the feeding to the end of the feeding, the content is dynamic, there is never one formula, so to speak of human milk the contents are always different, your baby needs more vitamin C at this moment, great more vitamin C is going into the milk, it needs these antibodies, those antibodies are going if you don’t have any contact with your baby, your body has no idea what to make, your body can’t start making antibodies for something it doesn’t know that your babies exposed to. It can only do that if it’s aware of what your baby is exposed to. And the only way your body can become aware of what your baby is exposed to is through physical touch skin to skin, and nursing at the breast.


That doesn’t mean that pumped breast milk is less than. It’s not the message I want people to take away from this. But what it does mean though, is that when we separate our babies from our mothers we are increasing the risk that they are not going to be getting the same immune benefits from the human milk as they otherwise would have had they been allowed to nurse to the breast and do skin to skin.


Now for some reason your baby can’t nurse the breast, it’s absolutely vital that you do skin to skin with them so that you can get that biological communication going. But the components of your breast milk actually do give your baby exactly what they need.


So that’s when human milk levels the problems with separating babies from mothers, again, there’s no evidence that you’ve been tested positive for COVID 19, giving birth to a baby that you should disrupt breastfeeding. There’s nothing to say that there’s anything dangerous about that at this point. Should you, of course, wash your hands and follow all the other normal recommendations that pretty much every health agency is putting out there, but especially the World Health Organization?


Yes! absolutely you should be washing your hands, you shouldn’t be picking your nose, you shouldn’t be touching your face, all of the rest of those sorts of things.


If you feel more comfortable, I do think there may be some evidence there to support that you wear a mask while breastfeeding your baby. So you’re not breathing respiratory droplets into your baby’s face. But only if you are confirmed to be tested positive for COVID 19. Okay, so here’s the other thing. It’s not even about human milk.  That’s just one area of concern for me. But we know this even when it comes to adopted babies, so babies were adopted, let’s say they’re in the womb for nine or 10 months or maybe less if they’re premature. They’re used to certain smells, tastes, sounds, sound of a person’s voice movements, all sorts of things, right? heartbeats, all of that.


Even if the moment after that baby is born and given to the adoptive caregiver and held skin to skin or put to that breast or whatever, that’s still trauma to that baby.


Now, I have to also add to this that I think adopting babies is beautiful. And I’ve helped so many parents who have adopted babies to induce lactation for them. And it’s a wonderful, wonderful gift to give your child but there is no if ands or buts about it. It’s absolutely a scientifically proven fact that adoptive babies experienced trauma. And the reason why they experienced that trauma is not because of anything the adoptive caregiver is doing. They’re not doing anything wrong. In fact, they’re doing a lot of things right. But it’s that that baby no longer has those familiar sounds, smells, tastes, all of that, that they were used to in the womb. That’s all they’ve ever known and it’s suddenly taken away from them. And then their little infant brain, they have no other assumption but to make that caregiver that they were gestating in their womb is now dead. And of course, that’s absolutely a trauma to them. So no matter how great you care for this baby, there’s still some trauma, and most adoptive parents if they go through a legitimate adoption agency, and all of that are counseled on this prior to adoption. So this is not something new.


If you’ve ever adopted a child, I’m sure that they’ve told you to expect this. We even know children in orphanages, those sorts of things, children and NICUs, babies and NICUs, they actually do experience trauma, as do many of the parents, that trauma is very, very real, and it can be resolved. But it changes the wiring of the brain. And it becomes a physiological thing. And unless we do something to address that brain wiring, and actually heal the trauma, that trauma tends to play out later on in life. And how it plays out later on in life is one of the big ways is a lowered immune system, there’s lowered IQ. And there are other factors as well. But lowered immune systems and poor health outcomes are the result of trauma, especially early on in life. So it’s really important that we don’t separate mothers and babies to unnecessarily cause them trauma.


And if you as the mother experienced trauma, because of the separation because of this pandemic, and this is interfering with the relationship that you otherwise would have had with your baby, because of these non-evidence-based recommendations. That’s a trauma to you. And it affects the way that you bond with your child, you know, there’s important moments that happen and the hours following birth, that create an imprint for your relationship with your child, for the rest of their lives, the rest of your life. And if we negate that, if we neglect that, and we say, well, emotions don’t matter, all that matters, is you know, handling infectious disease, we’re neglecting the long term consequences to human health, we’re neglecting the long term consequences to the immune system and ability to fight off infectious disease later on in life, and later on in life could be two months from now, it could be two years from now. And it could be 80 years from now. But this pandemic probably isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. And the last thing that we want to do is compromise an infant or mother’s immune system now. And let’s say, it’s a week or two months down the road, we’re still not out of this pandemic, yet.


Now, we’ve put them at an increased risk. Well, who’s going to pay for that? Right, who’s going to be to blame for that? So the third point that I ultimately want to make is that fear is the currency of control. And what I mean by that is when you’re afraid of something, something that has power over you, or the illusion of power over you, you give it control. And when we’re so afraid, to the point that we would give up our own babies, and no longer think rationally, logically and scientifically about the consequences of that. We’re giving up control and autonomy.


And now I’m not saying that there isn’t a good reason to be cautious about things, I think we should absolutely be taking precautions, and I’ll talk about that more in just a moment. But doing things out of fear, not out of science or evidence is where we give up our autonomy and our control. And the last thing that I want to see for families is for them to give up their instincts to give up their health, their health of their child’s and turn that over to an entity that says they have their best interests at heart, but is not practicing something evidence based. And believe me, if some evidence comes out that says that breastfeeding your newborn is the absolute riskiest thing you could ever do for your child, we have the benefits and the risks.


If we see evidence of that, I will be the first one to change my recommendations to you. But so far, there is no evidence that we should stop breastfeeding our babies right after birth, if you are tested positive for COVID, 19, or are suspected to have it.


So I want to be really clear that I’m following evidence and recommendations. And when you know more, you can do more. And when you have more knowledge that actually is power, and helps to eliminate the fear that you’re feeling. So what I don’t want people to do is to get in a whole bunch of fear, and unnecessarily do things and make choices that we don’t actually need to be making.


So there can be like well-placed fear, and then there’s misplaced fear, and well-placed fear would be like, yes, it is a great idea to wash your hands.  It’s always been a great idea to wash your hands really often. There are pathogens all around us all the time. So there’s, in my mind, nothing new. But certainly, this is brought to the forefront that people aren’t washing their hands enough. They’re not washing them thoroughly enough, long enough in the right way. And so good hand washing, I’ve always done that as a health care provider, of course, but good hand washing for the general public will have to do a lot to  stop the spread of not just COVID-19 but all diseases in general. So it’s a great thing to do, and you should wash your hands before breastfeeding your baby, you should wash them before pumping, and you should wash them again afterward.


Because you’re dealing with human milk, you’re dealing with bodily fluid. Now it’s breast milk. And it’s amazing. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t wash your hands. And so I just want to be really, really clear about that, that really, there’s no change in recommendations, but you just may not have had some awareness about these things. And that caution is different from fear.


So it is a good idea to be cautious. If you are tested positive for COVID-19. I do think it’s a good idea for you to wear a face mask when you’re near your baby. But chances are probably they can test the cord blood, chances are your baby’s already been exposed. So is repeated exposure and issues we just don’t know enough yet.


But at this time, still recommend breastfeeding your baby on demand skin to skin and staying in the same room with your baby. So those are absolutely recommendations we still recommend.


Now one of the other questions that I get is, hey, my baby is getting older, it’s kind of time to wean. But now with everything going on, not sure I want to wean, I want to address that question.


Now you get to make the choice, you always have the choice of whether or not you want to breastfeed your child, that’s up to everyone. If you’re listening to this podcast, well, you’ve probably made the choice to breastfeed. I would tell you, my recommendation would be to delay weaning during this time. That’s also what the World Health Organization is recommending. And it’s for good reason.


Now, you might have heard some misinformation out there, for Pediatricians, well, meaning peers, family members, and other misinformation online, that there are no immunological or nutritional benefits to breastfeeding past a year, or fill in the blank, whatever number you’ve been given, that’s actually not true. In fact, the older your baby gets, the more that those immunological benefits are actually concentrated in your breasts. So there’s gonna be even more antibodies, more immunoglobulins, more of all of that amazing stuff. And the longer you breastfeed, the better off your baby is, in fact, the World Health Organization back to them, they recommends breastfeeding until age two, and then beyond.


And the reason for that is best because they’re following the biological norm for the human species, which is that the human species’ natural age of weaning doesn’t happen until age two, and goes as high as age seven. And so some people might be like, Well, it’d be really weird to be breastfeeding my six-year-old. Well, it’s only weird because culturally, it’s not generally done. But it’s not weird for us in terms of biology. In fact, when you think about it, baby teeth and other mammals are usually called milk teeth. And our baby teeth tend to fall out between the ages of two and seven. And so those are initial teeth that are meant for while that mammal is nursing, and then they fall out when they’re ready to wean.


It doesn’t mean that the sign of the first tooth loss is that it’s time to wean, but it does mean sometime within that time frame of those baby teeth falling out, that’s when weaning happens. So just so you know, now you can make a choice to wean earlier than that. And that’s your choice. So I’m not saying that if you don’t breastfeed for two years, that you’re doing anything wrong, but I’m just giving you scientific evidence-based recommendations, and again, from the World Health Organization.


So let’s say your child is at that age, you’re considering meaning, just know that by breastfeeding them during this time, again, whatever you’re exposed to whatever pathogens in your environment, COVID-19, or flu, or, bacteria, anything else, your body goes into overdrive, prepares those antibodies, puts them in your milk and gives them to your child. So this is really, really vital. It’s one of the best things you could do. I mean, I know there are lots of you out there who are giving your children extra vitamins and supplements, all these kinds of things, making sure you’re on top of diet and nutrition. Of course, that’s always excellent, you should always do that.


But Breastfeeding can just add so much more security and peace of mind. So if you’re thinking about weaning, right now, I would say, it’s a good idea to postpone that, wait until things have calmed down, then you may want to revisit that, or you may not, you may decide to keep going. It’s totally up to you.


So that would be my recommendation, which again, is also the recommendation of the World Health Organization. And then I don’t want this episode to be too long. So I’m going to just wrap it up with this, which is, how can you get breastfeeding support during this time. And what I would say is that there are a lot of options for you. And I want to clarify some things. I’ve made a video on my Instagram TV account about this, but I have not talked about it on the podcast. And it’s something that I want to just bring to consumer awareness so that you guys know what’s going on from my perspective and the perspective of my colleagues.


So, as an IBCLC I’ve taken it upon myself to train myself in infection control, it’s not a requirement, although I do think anyone who’s running a healthcare practice or works in that setting, should have infectious disease control training. And part of that training is obviously that, you know, I sanitize anything that is used for my client’s in-between visits, and you know, wearing gloves and things of that nature. So that’s something I’ve always done. That wouldn’t change. However, one of the things We’ve never needed as lactation consultants would be things like face masks, you know, face shields like the plastic shields, any kind of you know, special suiting, we may wear scrubs. But we’re certainly not wearing gowns or other personal protective equipment. So unless an IBCLC works in a hospital setting, they really don’t have access to that personal protective equipment that anyone who is dealing with this pandemic or potentially dealing with it is supposed to be wearing.


And as you may know, from watching news reports, or reading anything, there is a shortage of personal protective equipment right now, at hospitals literally around the world. And so for me to try and get my hands on some of that and take that away from someone who is going to be directly exposed to that disease in ICU. First of all, I just don’t feel good about that, that’s just not that I really shouldn’t be taking those supplies away from them in this time of shortage, if anything if I have anything, I should be donating it to them. And so, you know, also, just so you guys know, if I even wanted to order those things for my medical suppliers right now, I can’t get them. In fact, many medical suppliers are actually having anyone who’s trying to place an order call and give justification as to why they’re ordering those things. Because, again, there’s a shortage. So as a lactation consultant, we work with you in person.


You’re either coming to our office in our clinic, or we’re going into your home, we’re going into your home, we’re putting ourselves that way at more risk, for sure. And potentially you have more risk, but definitely ourselves. And then when we put ourselves at risk, we’re putting our families at risk.


And then if we’re seeing more than one patient or client, we’re putting our additional patients and clients at risk. Because we’re in your space for at least an hour, we’re very close to your face, we’re touching you, me, of course, we have gloves on, but there’s absolutely going to be an exchange of respiratory droplets, there’s really no if ands or buts about it.


Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get breastfeeding care. Okay, so if you can’t get it in person, it would be really rare to find that right now. And I would caution you against working with providers who are seeing people in person at this time, because unless they have full, you know, protective equipment, it’s going to be a risk to you and your child. The other thing I would say about that, too, is that you know, I’m not saying that everyone who’s recently been in the hospital, you know, has COVID-19 and we should all be afraid of you.


But if you just birth a baby in a hospital or a birth center or anything outside of your home, you are actually a really high risk you very much more easily than the rest of us could have been exposed to COVID-19. And so, for me, just looking at this from an infection control perspective, it’s really not a good idea for me to put myself in an environment around someone who was recently admitted to a hospital, even if you’re in labor delivery, doesn’t mean that it’s not there. It’s everywhere. So being really cautious about you know, do you have lactation consultants willing to see you in person? Do they have full personal protective equipment? Okay, maybe that’s the way to go. But I would question seeing providers who are doing that at this time, and if they’re not able to take full precautions, like a normal physician or other health care provider.


I would just say something to be cautious about some of the questions like, how are they mitigating the spread? Now, it’s always up to you. It’s always up to these providers.


You have a personal choice, you can choose what you want here, but it is important for you to weigh the risks. Now, that doesn’t mean though, if you can’t see someone in person or if you don’t feel comfortable, that you can’t get care with breastfeeding. So I want to talk about this. A lot of you are not aware yet. But telehealth has always been an option.


Telehealth has always been something that’s been available to you when it comes to breastfeeding. And one of the things that a lot of people don’t know is that it’s actually really super effective. And I’ve been doing you know this for years. Honestly, it’s always been a part of my practice. And some people call it telemedicine, some people call it virtual consoles, video consoles, whatever you want to call it. But we can absolutely help you on video.


Now, some of us have been doing this for a long time like myself, others are just getting on the bandwagon and trying to do what they can. There’s not really anything I can’t do for your family over video. And if you have a second person there to help you man the camera. So we can do an oral exam on your baby, I can walk you through pretty much everything I would do. Now it may take you a little bit longer just because I’m trying to explain things to you and have you do them versus me doing them myself.


But I can help you with lach, I can help you with milk production, I can help you with pumping oral exercises for your baby, we can examine your baby’s oral anatomy. So if you have concerns about that we can absolutely take a look. There’s really nothing I can’t do except listen to their swallows with my stethoscope or weigh them before and after feeding. So those are the two things that I can’t do. Now I will tell you that I’ve done some advanced training and had a lot of clinical experience in this that I often don’t need to listen to the swallows. I’m actually able to watch the musculature of the way your baby’s face and you know their throats and everything moves Their body posture, and I can tell you where the deficiencies are and how to correct them. So there’s really not much I can’t help you with the video. So I want that to be a comfort to you during this time.


There are many other lactation consultants that have the same skill set I have. And I would encourage you, instead of thinking about, Okay, I can’t get help right now, because no one can come to my home and no one can help me as much as if they don’t come to my home, that’s actually not true, we can 100% help you via video. And that would be the safest option for you and your baby and the rest of your family and for our own families at this time. So if you’re struggling to find someone to connect with, you know, I offer that you’re more than welcome. Another thing I’ve done for people if you’re listening to this, is I’ve greatly reduced my fees for video consults during this time.


So I want care to be as accessible to you as possible. As you can find information about that you can set up an online appointment just by going to my website.


www.holistic I’ve made it super easy for you, you’re going to pay online, you’re going to book online, all of that everything’s done online, and then we do a secure video chat. The other thing I want to assure people about is that there are HIPAA-compliant video platforms, they usually integrate with our electronic health record system, or we may use something third party, very easy to do that with you, we can also set up HIPAA compliant text messaging, and email. So there’s no reason why you’d have to be concerned about your health privacy at this time.


Because there are absolutely platforms out there to enable us to respect your health, and privacy, keep your data secure, and make sure that you’re getting the help that you need. So I just want to share with you that you know those things with you guys as resources. The final thing I’ll add, if anyone’s interested, is that I do have a series of online classes. So I have one about increasing your milk supply, I have one about tongue and lip ties and buckle ties, I have one about food intolerances. And then I have one about mastitis and plugged ducts. And so if you’re like, you know, hey, I just don’t really need an appointment, but I’m dealing with one of those issues. And I want to know how to fix it and work with it on my own. Great, go take one of my online classes, those are super accessible, and they’re cheaper than an appointment with me.


So there’s a ton of information out there, there’s a ton of resources for you, you do not need to leave your own devices to Google stuff. You can just book an appointment, imagine what it would be like to have an answer for your unique breastfeeding challenge situation, problem whatever’s going on in just 30 minutes time, versus how much time are you going to spend trying to seek that answer out by asking friends scouring the internet not knowing what information to trust. So when I tell people, Hey, I could save you a ton of time and ultimately, probably a lot of money just by you booking an appointment with me because I’ll be able to pinpoint exactly what’s going on and give you a targeted plan to overcome that problem and be well on your way to happy successful breastfeeding, versus the anxiety, whatever, buying supplements that ultimately don’t work. You know, spending time going through these things. Now a couple of weeks have gone by, you’re making even less milk or whatever the problem is, and you’ve spent money on so many things. And now you’ve probably spent more than you would have had if we just worked together from the very beginning. And I tell you that because a lot of people just have no idea how what we do as lactation consultants is different from what you can find online. Well, it’s kind of like, you know, you could Google, you know, what, say, a torn meniscus injury. And you could read about some exercises to do or whatever.


But if you went to go visit an orthopedic surgeon, and they took an MRI of your knee, and they put together a targeted care plan, because your terrorism XYZ location, you know, and it’s individualized. Now you have a plan that’s actually going to get you back on track versus something that you’re trying to dry yourself, and may not be an appropriate recommendation for you. So I would encourage you always to get the best highest quality information that’s as tailored to you and your baby as possible. So that you can experience this hassle of breastfeeding. And really what happens is people walk away from appointments and they say, oh my gosh, I just feel so much less anxious, or I have more peace of mind. Even if there’s a problem if we’ve identified the problem. Now you know what that problem is, and now there’s a plan to fix it versus just not even knowing. So sometimes what you think is the problem is actually something else. And it’s just layers of an onion that I have to uncover. I always tell people, that it’s a bit like playing detective. So I want to leave you with three basic things. One is even if you test positive for COVID-19, we’re not recommending that you stop breastfeeding at this time that recommendation changes. I’ll be the first to let you know. Secondly, if you can delay weaning your child during this time, that would be a great thing to do for your child’s immune system.


The third thing is even the personal help is likely not available to us time during you know when it comes to breastfeeding, you can get online help, and it’s almost just as good. So of course there’s an element to like the personal connection and all of that, but we try to do our best via video to establish that with you as well. So I hope that you have found this information really helpful. I wanted to release this episode once I had gathered enough information, looked at all the evidence out there, looked at all the different opinions and advisories, and all of that to make sure I wasn’t preemptively putting information out there that wasn’t going to be accurate or helpful. And I feel confident releasing this information to you on April 8, 2020. So I would encourage you to share this information with a mom who’s expecting to have a baby, you know, anytime in the next several months, or has recently had a baby or is maybe even longer into her breastfeeding journey.


This may help put her mind at ease and answer many of the questions she’s had about COVID-19 and breastfeeding.


And if you found this helpful, We’d also love for you to leave a review on iTunes that helps us podcasts get found and discovered by moms who are looking for the same information that you have found so valuable. So it does wonders to help our podcast show up in searches and things like that. And we would absolutely love your support. If you’ve already left a review, I have to say thank you from the bottom of my heart because it means so much and truly getting your feedback helps me know what kind of things you guys want to hear on these episodes.


So if you ever have a topic that you want to hear about, find me on Instagram at holistic lactation, send me a direct message, and let’s have a conversation. So take care, stay well, stay healthy, and keep on breastfeeding.

In this episode, I’m giving you the latest evidence-based information about breastfeeding during the COVID-10 pandemic. I’ll be covering what the recommendations are if you test positive for the virus while breastfeeding, and why the recommendations are what they are. This is an episode every pregnant or breastfeeding mother should listen to so they can arm themselves with as much factual knowledge on the topic as possible and have peace of mind about breastfeeding during this unprecedented time.

If you enjoy this episode and it inspired you in some way, I’d love to hear about it and know your biggest takeaway. Take a screenshot of you listening on your device, post it to your Instagram Stories and tag me @holisticlactation

I’ve got a special gift for all my listeners and it’s 38 powerful breastfeeding affirmations to support you on your breastfeeding journey, so go get that free audio now at

In this episode, you’ll hear:

  • What is recommended if you test positive for COVID-19 while breastfeeding
  • The benefits of breastfeeding during this pandemic
  • Considerations about weaning during this pandemic
  • How to get the help of a lactation consultant during this time