New mothers with suspected COVID-19 can still breastfeed their babies, advises the Canadian Paediatric Society.

In their guidelines released this week, the CPS said the main concern is the virus being transmitted from mother to infant through respiratory droplets.

"Women who choose to breastfeed should wear a mask (if available), wash their hands, and clean their breast area with soap and water before each feeding," the guidelines said.

Mothers can also pump breastmilk, but must ensure they wash their hands and clean all equipment. Frequently touched household surfaces should also be regularly disinfected.

Both the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have recommend that mothers with suspected or proven COVID-19 continue to breastfeed.

The new guidelines come at a time when health-care practitioners can expect to encounter mothers with suspected or proven COVID-19 with "increasing frequency," the CPS said.

The CPS also stated that moms with suspected or proven coronavirus should not be completely separated from their babies, but that any potential risks plus benefits of rooming-in should be discussed with families and health-care providers.

Mothers can practise breastfeeding and skin-to-skin care when in hospital while taking precautions such as proper hand washing, and wearing surgical masks.

New moms who are too ill to breastfeed are encouraged to pump breastmilk for their babies.

The CPS cited a 2003 study on mothers with SARS who breastfed their babies. None of the infants who were breastfed went on to develop SARS. Also a recent small-sample-size study that tested breast milk found no positive tests for COVID-19. Also, antibodies to the coronavirus are "likely passed to the newborn and offer a protective benefit."

People who have COVID-19 symptoms should not be allowed to visit with the mother or baby.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2020.