Breastfeeding Celebration Week takes place from June 1 to 7 and this year's theme is supporting breastfeeding during Covid-19.

Helen Ferris, specialist midwife and infant feeding coordinator at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Staff have worked tirelessly during the recent Covid-19 situation to support breastfeeding, working against barriers such as communicating via face masks to give information, and reduced home visits, but have still done a wonderful job giving mums and their babies the best start in their breastfeeding journey.

“The health visitors then continue this once transfer of care takes place. I was delighted to hear one of the community midwives tell me that mums are all sat at home spending precious time breastfeeding and responding to their babies.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has answered some questions about breastfeeding and Covid-19.

Can women with Covid-19 breastfeed?

Yes. There is a wealth of evidence that breastfeeding reduces the risk of babies developing infectious diseases.

There are numerous live constituents in human milk, including immunoglobulins, antiviral factors, cytokines and leucocytes that help to destroy harmful pathogens and boost the baby’s immune system.

There is currently no evidence that Covid-19 can be passed to the baby through breastfeeding. Considering the protection that human milk and breastfeeding offers the baby and the minimal role it plays in the transmission of other respiratory viruses, it seems sensible to do all we can to continue to promote, protect and support breastfeeding.

To facilitate breastfeeding, mothers and babies should be enabled to stay together as much as possible, to have skin-to-skin contact, to feed their baby responsively and to have access to ongoing support when this is needed.

What can a mother do if she has Covid-19 but is too unwell to breastfeed?

This mother should be supported to safely provide her baby with breastmilk in a way that is possible, available and acceptable to her.

Consider breastmilk expression by hand/pump and give via a suitable alternative method. Maximising breastmilk is important during this time.