No one thought COVID -19 would bring a worldwide crisis and cannot be controlled. Hereby we share some of the latest information and guidelines regarding breastfeeding, breastfed milk, safety, and health of pregnant women, lactating mothers along with their babies.
Can I breastfeed if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?
Even if the mother is found to be COVID-19 positive, she can breastfeed her baby. Though it is advised to take proper and careful steps while she starts breastfeeding the baby. She should clean the hands as well as her breasts pretty well and have a healthy caregiver feed the baby. It is mandatory to clean the breast pump after every use. As this forms a major task in CDC guidelines for COVID -19 protection. The hands of the caregivers should be washed thoroughly even before they touch the bottles or feed the baby. To prevent the spread it is advised for mothers to maintain proper and complete hygiene, including wearing masks and washing hands.
Can COVID -19 be transmitted through breast milk?
Yes, a mother with COVID-19 can breastfeed the baby. According to WHO and CDC, breast milk is known to protect babies from infections and as such, no traces of the coronavirus were detected in breast milk. It is believed, COVID-19 could spread through close direct contacts of people, mainly via respiratory droplets like, if an infected person sneezes, coughs nearby a non-infected person. Therefore, breastfeeding is considered to be safe even if the mother shoes sickness such as the flu.
Should mothers be separated from their infants if tested positive?
In case the mother is suspected to have COVID-19, it is recommended to stay away from the baby as far as possible, and staying in a separate room is considered safest. When it comes to breastfeeding the baby, a healthy caregiver should take care of the baby. If the mother cannot stay away from the baby in a separate room and decides to stay in the same room, then she should maintain a minimum of 6feet distance from the baby and if brought closer then should wear mask and hand should be washed and kept clean.
Once the mother experiences no fever state without any medicine for already 72 hours then she can stop the isolation while here other symptoms have also started improving and the mother is recovering.
Is breastfeeding safe or should I switch to formula?
According to UNICEF, breastfeeding is the safest as well as the most reliable way of baby feeding in an emergency. Moreover, if breastfeeding is replaced by any formula it will be riskier because the risk of spread through the formula manufacturer and the delivery would act as a chain of supply of infection. Since there is no evidence of COVID-19 in breast milk yet, it is considered to be safe and is recommended for breastfeeding.
If I have COVID-19 and I am too unwell to breastfeed or have been separated from my baby for some time, can I resume breastfeeding?
Yes, after the separation period is over and the baby is brought back to the mother, breastfeeding can be resumed if possible. According to UNICEF, the re-establishment of the milk supply is referred to as re-lactation. Though the following measures are necessary to be followed before the process of re-lactation :
- Initiation of the actions which could stimulate the hormonal response like skin to skin contact, nuzzling at the breast, and breast massage.
- Breast massage and hand pump expression should be performed in between the feeds or when the mother is separated from the baby.
- At least 8-12 times in a day a baby should suck from both the breasts.
- It is advised to have a baby while pumping the breast
- Baby should be properly attached to the breast incorrect position for effective suckling and prevent nipple trauma
- Observe the baby’s stool and urine output.
- Under proper guidance and support the re-establish of breastfeeding should occur.
Tips for using breast pumps
- The best room temperature to store expressed breast milk is for about 4 to 6 hours.
- Before using the breast pumps, it is advised to clean hands thoroughly. The guidelines recommend that anyone who is sick should avoid feeding the expressed breast milk to the baby.
- It is advised to have onetime use of nonreusable pumps. There is a greater risk of transmission. Reusable pumps can be used by more than 1 mother without any proper reprocessing process.
- Milton Fluid is considered safe to be used as a sanitizing solution for the breastfeeding equipment.
Breastfeeding is an essential preventive measure to boost up the immunity of the baby and mother, even during such pandemic. It is advised to discuss it with the doctor and take any further steps as it would be defining the health of the mother as well as the baby.