National Breastfeeding Month in the Time of COVID-19: What’s New and What Endures

Last week was World Breastfeeding Week (WBW), celebrated annually in 120 countries each year during the week of August 1-7th.  The World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA- has promoted this global effort to raise awareness and support action on breastfeeding since 1992.  WBW commemorates the Innocenti Declaration on the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding (, which gave the first outspoken global recognition that breastfeeding is “…the ideal nutrition for infants…” and that women have the right to breastfeed and be supported in breastfeeding. The Innocenti Declaration includes endorsement of the Ten Steps of Successful Breastfeeding, now known worldwide as Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative.  We’ve come a long way and yet have a long way to go!  This year’s theme is to support breastfeeding for a healthier planet though “informing, anchoring, engaging, and galvanizing.”  You can celebrate with a spectrum of activities: increase awareness with short hands on workshops for colleagues and trainees tucked into regularly scheduled meetings, with new posters in clinical areas (, and by sharing video links via email (see

While your support of breastfeeding endures, what has changed in a very positive direction for breastfeeding, is the AAP’s Interim Guidance for “Management of Infants Born to Mothers with Suspected or Confirmed COVID-19 ( which is presented as a set of FAQs online. (FYI: An AAP interim guidance differs from Policy statements in that they are developed by a small group of authors, revised every 30 days, formatted as a series of questions and answers, and expire at the latest December 2020.)  Precautions for health professionals caring for a COVID positive mother have not changed, but we note that this new Guidance supports rooming in and no longer recommends mother-infant separation – there appears no increased risk of transmission or of serious infant illness with physical separation. We know that keeping the mother-infant dyad together promotes breastfeeding, and it is a relief that the scientific evidence available to date supports this approach.  Mothers who are COVID positive are encouraged to breastfeed with hand hygiene and masking – for those mothers who are very ill others will need to step in and assist with all care but they can provide breast milk if able.

Finally, here are a couple of quick Ohio updates: Ohio’s First Steps for Healthy Babies program (, which is a voluntary breastfeeding designation program for Ohio maternity hospitals, is alive and well.  We congratulate the 87 Ohio hospitals that have achieved recognition for implementing breastfeeding-supportive practices (see site for list).  The latest Maternity Practices in Infant Care and Nutrition (mPINC) survey conducted by the CDC ( was redesigned and cannot be compared to prior years, but shows Ohio with a total score of 78, compared to a national total score of 79.  Ohio is making slow but steady progress!

Stay well, reach out for help as needed, and please consider joining the Section on Breastfeeding to network with like-minded colleagues and share in the joy of the work we do and can do to support breastfeeding.

Sincerely, Your Ohio Chapter Breastfeeding Coordinators,

Julie Ware, MD, MPH, FAAP,

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

Cell 901-331-6313


Lydia Furman, MD, FAAP

Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital

Phone:  216-844-3971

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