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For breastfeeding mothers: considering the benefits of breastfeeding and the insignificant role of breast milk in transmission of other respiratory viruses, breastfeeding can continue. If the breastfeeding mother has COVID-19, she should wear a medical or procedural mask when near the baby, practice respiratory etiquette, and perform hand hygiene before and after close contact with the baby.
Consult the breastfeeding information tool for Parents in the context of a pandemic (in French) (PDF)
Breastfeeding is natural. But for many women and families support can be helpful or even necessary.
Having concerns or difficulties is normal. It’s important to learn to ask for help. (INSPQ)
Importance of breastfeeding
Breast milk is unique and adapted to the baby’s need. It provides everything a newborn or infant needs for health, growth and development. The benefits of breast milk are passed on each time the baby feeds and increase with duration and exclusivity of breastfeeding.
In addition to the economic and ecological benefits of breastfeeding, there are also many positive health effects for both mother and child. For example, breastfeeding
- decreases risks of infections in children (respiratory tract infections, acute otitis media and gastrointestinal infections),
- reduces the risks of sudden infant death and necrotizing enterocolitis (a serious disease that affects the baby’s bowels), and
- reduces the mother’s risks of developing breast cancer.
- Exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life (breast milk only, not even water; however, the baby can be given medications or vitamin and mineral supplements required for his or her health);
- Around 6 months of age, adding other foods that meet the child’s growing needs;
- Breastfeeding for two years or more, as long as the mother and child want to continue.
In a few rare cases, breastfeeding is not recommended (e.g. certain infectious diseases, use of certain medications). If you would like more information, talk to a healthcare professional.
Even if breastfeeding is natural, support may be helpful or even necessary. See the section below on the importance of support to find out more.
Getting a good start
Breastfeeding is a new experience for you and your baby. Give yourself time to become familiar with the art of breastfeeding.
Here are a few helpful tips and tricks.
Skin-to-skin contact with your newborn usually starts at birth. The first contact helps keep the baby warm, get used to the new environment and seek out the breast when he or she is ready. For the mother, this first contact releases the hormones that are essential to get the milk flowing.
- The first time the child nurses is very important. Usually, in the first hour following delivery, your baby shows signs of being ready to nurse. Let the baby move toward the breast and begin to suckle.
- For this initial feed if needed, ask your nurse or midwife for help.
- Keep your baby close to you, in the same room, day and night.
- Your baby will nurse a lot during the first few days. This is normal. Nursing often or expressing your milk manually if the baby isn’t nursing ensures a good milk supply.
- Your baby nurses instinctively and is perfecting the technique. Therefore, it is better not to use artificial nipples (pacifiers and baby bottles).
When to Consult
Protection and prevention
Help and Resources
Importance of support
Caring for a baby is a full-time job. Accept any help that people around you are offering (e.g. cleaning the house, preparing meals, etc.). This will help you get some of your energy back and give you time to get used to your new role as parent.
If you have difficulties or concerns, professionals from the healthcare network are there to answer your questions and provide support. Don't hesitate to ask a healthcare professional for help.
You can offer support to a mother who is nursing her child. Whether you’re her life partner, relative, neighbour or friend, you can play an important role. Ask parents what would be most helpful.
Here are a few ways you can make a difference.
- Offer to get the nursing mother a glass of water or a snack.
- Change the baby’s diaper, burp the baby or give the baby a bath.
- Help with household tasks.
- Take care of the baby's brothers and sisters.
- Take the baby out for a brief stroll.
- Accompany the parents to an appointment.
What parents have said
Breastfeeding can be challenging. Each family’s situations and stories are different. In this video, from CIUSSS de l'Ouest-de-l'Île-de-Montréal (Montréal West Island IUHSSC), you’ll hear parents talk about the importance of support.
If this video raises questions or concerns, contact your CLSC to talk to a professional.
- From Tiny Tot to Toddler. A practical guide for parents from pregnancy to age two
- Nourri-Source Montréal (in French)
- More specifically, its resource guide
- La Leche League Canada
- Association Québécoise des Consultantes en Lactation Diplômées de l'IBLCE
- Have extra milk? Contact Héma Québec.
People at Risk
Dernière mise à jour le : 2019.08.16