Breastfeeding and COVID-19
We know that many of you are juggling personal and professional changes to the way you live and work. Our team is too. In this time of deep uncertainty, we continue our commitment to serving in solidarity with your efforts to support breastfeeding families. We hope you find the below resources, ideas, and opportunities helpful as you navigate the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We want to thank everyone who contributed to the resources shared within this page, and everyone who is continuing to find innovative ways to realize the vision of a breastfeeding-supportive Michigan. We are inspired by your efforts and honored by the privilege to serve alongside you. To share additional resources, please email email@example.com.
YOU! MIBFN collaborates with organizations and individuals to bring about actionable, system-level changes that are centered on the diverse experiences of Michigan families with young children.
At meetings on April 2nd and May 7th with local breastfeeding stakeholders from around the state, we discussed local responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and how best to support families. The main themes from the call were:
- Black and Indigenous families are most impacted by the COVID19 pandemic and suffer the greatest from restrictions placed on birthing and breastfeeding parents. Distributing resources equitably would mean allocating more resources to these communities.
- We must specifically work to drive support to community organizations that are continuing to do the work despite hospital policies restricting birthing and breastfeeding folks and limited access to lactation support.
- Screening and triage procedures will remain in place and in-home visits are needed for lactation as Telehealth is not always an option for families.
- Funding and universal internet are needed for equitable access to HIPAA compliant telehealth and other virtual platforms for lactation support
- Although some of the HIPAA standards have been temporarily loosened, because of the current and historical exploitation of the health information of Black and Indigenous peoples, lactation supporters should maintain usual HIPAA compliance with the families they serve
- There is great need for continued education for families on breastfeeding and COVID19 – families are afraid and choosing not to breastfeed
- Professional and peer lactation supporters continue to counsel families during this time and need to be equitably compensated for the necessary care they are providing
- Universal birth and breastfeeding standards – that center Black and Indigenous families – are needed in the face of conflicting guidelines
- Continuity of care is an ongoing issue in most communities. During this pandemic, in most areas, MIHP, WIC, are still open – but lactation supporters and families need more communication (and myth busters) on who is providing what services in each community
- Breast pumps are causing unique barriers during the pandemic because of miscommunication among insurance, WIC, and families. Physically transferring the pump to the family is also creating health risks.
- August Breastfeeding observances need to include advocacy components that address medical providers and catalyze specific practice changes: 1. Do not offer breast milk substitutes to families and 2. Refer families to skilled lactation care.
- This group can work as a collective voice for change at a systemic level and families do not have time to wait for August for these changes.
- Sharing stories is very effective, includes families in the work, and also lends itself to controlling the narrative for breastfeeding support.
These themes have guided our efforts and we are so honored to serve in solidarity with birth and breastfeeding frontline workers as we navigate this pandemic. If you would like to join our next meeting of breastfeeding supporters, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Bottom line: breastfeeding should continue
Although health officials are still learning about COVID-19, from what they know about other viral respiratory illnesses, WHO advises that breastfeeding should continue and breastfeeding families should remain together whenever possible and with the clearance of their medical provider. Breast milk provides benefits including protection for infants against many illnesses. As is recommended by the WHO, handwashing before breastfeeding or expressing human milk is encouraged by all individuals who come in contact with the infant and precautions should be taken by the sick parent to reduce the risk of virus transmission. We continue to monitor guidance for updates to their recommendations. If you would like to share a resource, please email email@example.com.
- “Covid-19 Restrictions on Birth & Breastfeeding: Disproportionately Harming Black and Native Women” by Kimberly Seals Allers
- WHO interim guidance on breastfeeding and COVID-19
- WHO FAQ and Decision Tree
- CDC interim guidance on breastfeeding and COVID-19
- WHO COVID-19 recommendation Facebook post
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendations
- American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations
This resource list is continuing to grow. We do not consider this to be an all-encompassing list, but rather an easily accessible hub for resources referenced and shared during our meeting with local breastfeeding supporters. If you participate in our meetings and are looking for something that was mentioned on the call, look no further! If you would like to contribute a resource or join our next meeting of breastfeeding supporters, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- US Breastfeeding Committee COVID-19 Resource Webpage
- Learning Education Resources: Telehealth Tips and Resources for Lactation Providers
- Breastfeeding and Coronavirus resources from La Leche League International
- Relactation graphic by YOLO
- From Evidence-Based Birth, a sample informed consent for refusal of separation
- COVID-19 Letter Addressing Human Milk Substitute (Word | PDF)
- Breastfeeding Networking Call, Baby-Friendly USA Updates: Interim GEC and Preliminary Plans Post-COVID 19 (took place May 14, 2020)
HIPAA Compliant Telehealth Resources
- Virtual Consult Best Practices for IBCLCs
- Zoom/Zoom Meeting (note: special paid plans offer HIPPA compliant security)
Free Internet Resources so Families Can Access Telehealth Support
- Comcast Free Internet Essential Program: (855) 846-8376
- Verizon extended data plans for the month of April
Lactation Support for Families
- Private practice IBCLCs throughout the United States who are offering virtual consultations
- Michigan WIC Community Support Liaison phone line staffed by Erica Davis: WIC warm line (833) MIWICBF or (833) 649-4223
- Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA): Breastfeeding, pregnancy and postpartum warm line (800) 313-6141 ext. 2 or ext. 3
- Southeast Michigan IBCLCs of Color FREE breastfeeding classes and support group information. Virtual and in-person clinical breastfeeding support is also accessible for families: www.semiibclcofcolor.org or 248-781-2497
- Chippewa Health Department/local hospital newborn referral form
Partners and doulas: Governor Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-07 ensuring that a partner and doula may accompany a laboring mother, if they pass the health evaluation. Here are the follow-up Executive Orders as well (Executive Order 2020-37 and Executive Order 2020-72).
The United States Breastfeeding Committee is also collecting stories to shape future efforts: share your experiences here.
We are so inspired by everyone continuing to find innovative ways to realize the vision of a breastfeeding-supportive Michigan and we are honored by the privilege to serve alongside you. We believe strongly in the need to listen, trust, and invest in the people providing direct support in the communities where they live and serve.
We are leveraging our platform and financial resources to support frontline breastfeeding supporters:
- #InvestInDetroit Breastfeeding Fundraiser to support Southeast Michigan IBCLCs of Color
- MIBFN Projects and Partners
- Free Teleconference Support for Local Coalitions
Collaborate with us!
If you would like to partner with MIBFN to bring financial resources to your community, or are interested in supporting our efforts, please reach out to email@example.com or 734-465-6559.
Consider giving today!
There is so much work to do, and so many families and organizations who rely on our support. Please make a donation to MIBFN!