Since the identification of the SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19 disease) in December 2019 and the resultant pandemic, it has been a stressful time for everyone. The novelty of SARS-CoV-2 has raised some serious concerns among breastfeeding mothers regarding their vulnerability and whether there’s a chance that they could transmit the infection to their babies while breastfeeding.
This article aims at answering all the queries and doubts surrounding breastfeeding, especially if you’ve been declared COVID-19–positive.
SARS-CoV-2 spreads through close contact between people when the infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks. So far, this virus has not been found in breast milk. The World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) all recommend that even if the mother tests positive for COVID-19, she should continue breastfeeding her baby.
For babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), their mother’s milk is all the more important as it helps the baby’s underdeveloped immune system fight against all types of infections.
Breastfeeding has been shown to be safe when a mother has other viral illnesses such as influenza. That is because breast milk has the important and one-of-a-kind antibodies that help prevent the baby from becoming sick with COVID-19.
Breastfeeding is great for babies. It protects them from several infections. Infants who are breastfed are generally less likely to contract severe respiratory problems when they get sick. Breastfeeding is great for the mother, too. The hormones released in the mother’s body during breastfeeding help promote wellness and in relieving stress and anxiety.
There are several other benefits too. Since breast milk is readily available, it doesn’t have to be purchased! This is really important during public health emergencies when it becomes more challenging to purchase formula and other feeding supplies.
If you and your family members choose to keep your baby in the same room with you, try to keep a suitable distance from your baby when possible. Always wear a mask and wash your hands whenever you are in direct contact with your baby. Continue taking all these precautions until you have no longer have a fever, at least for 24 hours, and without taking any fever medicines, for a minimum of ten days since your COVID-19 symptoms first started, and all the symptoms have improved. If you tested positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms, it is recommended to wait until at least ten days after you get the positive test result.
Hand expressing breast milk is especially helpful in the first few days after your baby’s birth to get the milk supply going. Frequent pumping (or breastfeeding if you have opted to breastfeed directly and are following the strict precautions mentioned above) should align with your baby’s feeding demands. Ask your paediatrician or a lactation consultant for help with getting your infant to latch on again once you restart breastfeeding. Do not hesitate to reach out for help if you have difficulties with feeding, low milk supply, nipple pain, or other breastfeeding concerns.
Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. You can even use a hand sanitiser if soap and water aren’t available. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose with unwashed hands. If you feel unwell, take extra precaution to cough or sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. Make sure that everyone in your home avoids close contact with anyone showing respiratory symptoms such as coughing, sneezing or people with probable COVID-19.
Your breastmilk is the best nutrition you could offer your baby and can protect against several illnesses. If you are sick, you (or someone else) can give your infant expressed breast milk. You can also check with local healthcare facilities about donated breastmilk, just in case. You can talk to your doctor to help decide if you should continue to breastfeed. While this may be a difficult time, try to stay optimistic and reduce stress as much as possible. This involves getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising regularly.
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This post was last modified on May 15, 2021 2:36 pm