Health agencies recommend breastfeeding as optimal choice even during COVID-19 pandemic

(Ohio) – While it is recognized that breastfeeding is not always a possibility, health organizations are standing behind their recommendation despite COVID-19 concerns.

The Ohio Department of Health, in alignment with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), and Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, recommends breastfeeding as the optimal feeding choice for infants, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials explain that breast milk provides protection against many illnesses. During this time, Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, M.D., MPH, strongly recommends that all new mothers continue to safely feed their babies by following these CDC-recommended steps for feeding with respiratory infections:

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water each time before touching your baby, preparing a bottle for breast milk (or formula), touching your pump or bottle parts, or expressing milk.
  • If you are showing symptoms (cough, shortness of breath), isolate yourself at home away from other family members, including your baby.
    • Due to a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the state, we are not recommending nursing mothers go out and buy masks to wear while breastfeeding.
    • Instead, if you feel sick or have a fever, express milk in one room, and then have someone who is well feed the expressed milk to the baby.
  • If you are unable to produce milk during this time, you can use formula following the same cleaning precautions to prevent spread of infection.
  • Remember, homemade baby formula recipes online and on social media are NOT recommended and can be dangerous for your baby.
  • If you have questions, contact your local WIC clinic for further guidance or call 1-844-601-0365 to connect with your closest WIC clinic. You can also reach out to the Appalachian Breastfeeding Network Statewide 24/7 Hotline at 1-888-588-3423.

For answers to your COVID-19 questions, call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).


If you or a loved one are experiencing anxiety related to the coronavirus pandemic, help is available. Call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 (1-800-846-8517 TTY); connect with a trained counselor through the Ohio Crisis Text Line by texting the keyword “4HOPE” to 741 741; or call the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services help line at 1-877-275-6364 to find resources in your community.


Additional Resources:

CDC guidance on pregnancy and breastfeeding around COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html

Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine statement on breastfeeding safety with COVID-19: https://www.bfmed.org/abm-statement-coronavirus

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