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Mother & child: Is breastfeeding safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Mother & child: Is breastfeeding safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- In addition to nourishment, breastfeeding promotes bonding between a mother and child. But is it safe to do during the COVID-19 pandemic?

On CBS 58 Sunday Morning, Kim Shine sought answers from medical experts and spoke with moms about their concerns.

To many women, fewer things are more precious than motherhood. 

It’s a lifelong journey that's filled with love, patience and some sacrifice.

"You’re just not first anymore. It’s this little human being that really needs you," said Cristina Loayza, mother to a three-month-old son. 

“With patience you can get through anything," said mother-of-three Chela Downey.

“Even trying to go take a shower last night, my daughter threw a hissy fit because she wanted to go take a shower with me and I just wanted to shower by myself," Rachel Olson, mother-of-two, said.

But aside from having children, these moms have something else in common.

They chose to breastfeed their children, and they’re continuing to do so during the Coronavirus pandemic.

"It is liquid gold and you just have to be confident in the powers of yourself as a breastfeeding mom and in the powers of breast milk," Olson said. 

“There are immunities, and there are antibodies in breast milk that protects the babies from viruses as well as bacteria," said Dalvery Blackwell, a Milwaukee-based, international board certified lactation consultant.

She’s also a co-founder of the African American Breastfeeding Network.

“Many mothers were experiencing some levels of stress, because you know stress is part of life. But now with COVID-19 it has been compounded," Blackwell explained.

"Definitely, I would say that I'm very anxious and fearful, especially for my baby, because," he's just three months old," Loayza said.

“We don't know, you know, who has what, or who's a carrier," Downey said. "And it's crazy because like right before all pandemic actually started happening, our whole household was actually sick.”

As of the airing of this story on May 10, there were nearly 8,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin.

More than 40-percent are in Milwaukee County.

Click here for the most recent updates from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

“We've had a handful of women who've been impacted by the coronavirus tested positive during their pregnancy," said Dr. Garrett Fitzgerald, a maternal fetal medicine specialist at the Froedtert Medical College of Wisconsin.

“Our experience of the patient population has been similar to that worldwide of pregnant women and newly delivered women not having necessarily a higher risk of critical illness, which we see with other viruses, but we see that they can still have the very uncomfortable and persistent respiratory symptoms," he added.

If a mother contracts COVID-19, Fitzgerald said her milk is still safe.

Research has also shown that the virus is not transmitted this way.

Yet while nursing Fitzgerald advises hand washing, enhanced cleaning of the skin or pump, and wearing a mask, if needed.

There’s no question that the Coronavirus pandemic is applying great pressure to us all.

But for these moms the health and safety of their children will always come first.

That means this Mother’s Day might be a bit different for them, and moms across the world.

Olson, Loayza and Downey say that’s okay.

“Be the best you can because, guess what, your children are not looking for you," Downey said. "You know to be the, you know, perfect person. They're looking for you to be the best mom to them.”

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