Supporting lactation in the era of COVID-19

March 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a public health emergency. Many questions and concerns have been raised in regard to the impact of COVID-19 on infant feeding practices during the postpartum period.

As a coalition, we acknowledge COVID-19 presents a number of competing priorities for hospitals, clinics and community-based organizations. However, we cannot forget the importance and significance of human milk for mothers, birthing people, and infants*:

  • Colostrum is an infant’s first vaccine, offering antibodies based on their needs at birth
  • Human milk provides immune support, helping baby to fight off illness
  • Human milk offers the right profile of nutrients based on baby’s current needs
  • Lactation increases the level of oxytocin in the birthing person’s body, facilitating uterine contractions that reduce postpartum bleeding
  • Hormones released during lactation reduce stress, allowing mom or the birthing person to relax and bond with her baby
  • Lactating individuals are shown to have reduced risk for diabetes, heart disease, breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

In response to these unprecedented times and the concerning healthcare practices being adopted across the country, we invited Dr. Aunchalee Palmquist to discuss the current WHO and CDC guidelines and recommendations.

Dr. Palmquist, a medical anthropologist and IBCLC, provided a wealth of information and resources. The fast-moving presentation lasted a little over an hour with an additional 30 minutes of Q&A with participants. The California Breastfeeding Coalition is grateful to Dr. Palmquist, our moderator, Dr. Ifeyinwa Asiodu and the more than 700 individuals that registered for this webinar.

Click here to access the full session recording.

A summary of key points from the webinar with timestamps, Dr. Palmquist’s slides, and list of references can be found on our website.

In any emergency — pandemic or disaster — we must not lose sight of the symbiotic relationship between infants and their birthing parents. As a coalition, we stand firm in our mission to protect, promote and support breastfeeding, chestfeeding and the use of human donor milk, especially during the public health emergency created by COVID-19.

We appreciate everything you are doing, and will continue to offer educational opportunities and tools to further your efforts.


Robbie Gonzalez-Dow

Executive Director

California Breastfeeding Coalition

* Victora, C. G., Bahul, R., Barro, A. J., Franca, G. V., Horton, S., Krasevec, J. Breastfeeding in the 21st century: Epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. The Lancet. 2016. 387(10017), 475–490.

American Academy of Pediatrics, (2012). Policy Statement Paper. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. Pediatrics, 129(3). 827-841.