Coronavirus Last updated on 2021-05-19 12:01:46
How To Breastfeed: A Guide for COVID-19 Positive Mothers
- Dr. Sreelekha Daruvuri
- 3 Min Read
- Fact Checked
It is a known fact that breastmilk is the best source of vital nutrients to a new born baby and further helps protect them from getting ill. Mothers choose to breastfeed their infants due to its many benefits such as the strengthening of the child’s immune system. Unfortunately, since the COVID-19 second wave hit India, pregnant and lactating mothers are not spared from contracting the virus. This has led to much confusion among mothers that are breastfeeding or lactating. Here are tips for COVID-19 positive mothers breastfeeding their infant - it will help keep both mother and child safe.
How can a breastfeeding infant contract COVID-19? The child can contract the virus due to the close contact it has with its mother while breastfeeding.
Advice for COVID-19 positive breastfeeding mothers
- Wear masks during feeding times. Don’t reuse disposable masks.
- Try to give hand/machine express feeds as much as possible and keep your baby at a distance of more than 6 feet when not feeding.
- Wash hands with a mild soap prior to touching or feeding the baby
- Regularly disinfect all surfaces that you touch or the baby is exposed to
- Dispose tissues after sneezing or coughing and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean hands
- Isolate yourself at home so as to not transmit the virus to another person. Limit visitors as much as possible.
- Follow your doctor’s recommendations to track your recovery at home if you are advised homecare
Alternatives to breastfeeding: Mothers can choose to continue to feed their babies using a bottle, a clean cup or a spoon after pumping the milk they have produced.
Points to remember
- Pregnant and breastfeeding COVID-19 positive mothers produce antibodies in their milk to enhance their baby’s immune system.
- Continuation of breastfeeding can help fight the virus and protect your child
- If you experience COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough and breathing difficulty while breastfeeding or while pregnant, consult a doctor immediately
- It is recommended that there is skin-to-skin contact with the mother and infant immediately after delivery as per normal protocol. The contact is deemed important as it helps the infant initiate breastfeeding its benefits outweigh the risks of viral transmission
What experts recommend
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that mothers that are suspected or confirmed COVID-19 positive should continue to breastfeed. It has been noted that the benefits of breastfeeding an infant tips the scale a lot more than the risk of transmitting the virus. They have also confirmed that there isn't enough data to conclude that there is a possibility of 100% transmission of the COVID-19 virus from mother to child. As per their professional perspective, the risk for infection in an infant is low and if occurred is usually mild and asymptomatic.
The organization has also set a detailed guideline that can be seen here.
Newborns and COVID-19: What do we know?
- COVID-19 is uncommon in newborns (even if the mother had been infected)
- Some newborns have tested positive for the virus after birth but there is no sufficient information if they contracted it before, during or after birth
- Newborns that have tested positive for COVID-10 commonly had mild symptoms and have recovered. There are few reports of newborns affected severely
Read more about it on the MOHFW website.
Should pregnant and lactating mothers be vaccinated?
As per professionals, mothers that are breastfeeding or are pregnant should get the vaccines as the benefits outweigh the risk. As of now there are no reported side effects that would affect an infant. Obstetricians and gynecologists are encouraging pregnant and lactating women to get vaccinated. Its important to talk to your Gynecologist before getting vaccinated.
Should you experience any COVID-19 symptoms or have questions about how to breastfeed your child during recovery, you can consult with a gynecologist or general practitioner online with MFine. This will help you keep safe as your doctor will recommend your next course of action when it comes to breastfeeding, treatment or recovery.
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