The coronavirus pandemic, which has held the entire world captive for two years now, affects all aspects of life, even the natural process of breastfeeding by the mother of a newborn. The disease chooses the victims, regardless of the importance of the processes of life. And even a woman who has recently become a mother can be infected with coronavirus.
And then becomes extremely urgent question of whether it is possible to breastfeed with covida, especially against the background of treatment with the use of potent and unsafe for the health of the baby medications. In addition, this question is also important in terms of the possibility of the risk of infecting the baby through breast milk if you breastfeed with covid.
Can I breastfeed with coronavirus?
The question of whether a covid-infected mother can breastfeed her newborn baby has been studied by UNICEF and WHO experts. Based on their results, they concluded that the role of breast milk in the transmission of respiratory infections is negligible compared to the benefits of breastfeeding. There is no data on the presence of active virus in breast milk or on the possibility of transmission through breast milk. The main dilemma is not whether or not the virus can be transmitted through the mother’s milk.
The question is whether the virus can be transmitted from the infected mother by airborne transmission, through coughing or sneezing, breathing while the woman continues to breastfeed with covid. Therefore, to prevent the baby from contracting covid, the mother needs to follow hand hygiene rules. Wearing a mask when in close contact with the baby, including when breastfeeding is mandatory.
Reasons not to wean an infant during the period of illness
Treatment of coronavirus during breastfeeding is prescribed taking into account the recommendations of the Ministry of Health for this category of patients. If the course of the disease allows and the prescribed drugs are safe for the baby, experts do not advise stopping breastfeeding. This is due to the fact that mother’s milk contains antibodies that strengthen children’s immunity and serve as protection against infections. Breastfeeding strengthens the health of mothers and provides lifelong health benefits to children, significantly reducing the risk of death for newborns and infants.
Body contact with the newborn is very important immediately after birth, and breastfeeding is recommended to begin in the first hours of life. Even though the woman has to treat the disease, up to six months the best food for her baby is still mother’s milk, and it is necessary to use every opportunity to continue feeding it to the baby.
How to feed in covida
Requires no additional emphasis on the axiom that the baby and the mother, which is diagnosed with “coronas” during breastfeeding, should be under the watchful eye of the attending physician and pediatrician or neonatologist, who will monitor their health status and give the necessary recommendations in time.
During the treatment of coronavirus in breastfeeding, experts advise the mother to:
- disinfect and clean surfaces regularly;
- when coughing or sneezing, use a disposable handkerchief, then dispose of it, wipe your hands with alcohol or wash them with soap;
- wash your hands with soap and water before coming into contact with your baby and use alcohol-based hand cleaners.
A medical mask should be worn during feeding and changed when it becomes wet, and the used mask should be disposed of immediately. You should avoid reusing the mask and touching the front of it.
Mom has covid disease: what to do?
If the mother is sick with “corona” and it is necessary to treat coronavirus while breastfeeding, and the disease is so severe that it is not possible to breastfeed the infant in the usual mode, you can replace the attachment to the breast by breastfeeding with decanted milk. It is necessary to decant it, observing hygienic measures – keep your hands clean, stay in the room with the baby only in a mask, keep utensils sterile. Support of family members during this period is very important.
If the mother is extremely ill, someone from them should take responsibility for feeding the child. If the patient is very weak, which makes it impossible not only to breastfeed with covid, but also to decant the milk, it is necessary to consider the use of donor milk. The circle of persons caring for the infant should be limited.
Everything should also be done to resume breastfeeding after recovery.
How to express milk correctly
Usually carry out manual pumping of milk, milk pump is used only if necessary. If a woman is not able to breastfeed with covid hand pumping and using a breast pump may be equally effective. The woman and those who help her breastfeed her baby should wash their hands before pumping or touching any part of the breast pump or bottle, and properly clean the breast pump after each use.
However, even outside the context of coronavirus, milk storage containers, breast pumps, and feeding utensils should be kept clean – washing the breast pump, containers with dishwashing liquid, liquid soap, and warm water after use. Afterwards, rinse all attributes for 10-15 seconds under hot water. Individual breast pump parts can be washed in the top section of the dishwasher.
Nuances of feeding express milk
When treating coronavirus while breastfeeding, if there is a temporary need to breastfeed with express milk, it is preferable to
- That the baby be fed from a clean cup and/or spoon, as it is easier to handle them;
- That the infant is fed by someone who is not ill and with whom the infant feels comfortable;
- That the caregiver carefully treats the baby’s hands before breastfeeding.
The process of decanting is important to maintain milk production so that when the mother recovers, she can breastfeed her infant. The woman can start breastfeeding again after coronavirus when breastfeeding as soon as she feels better. There is no time limit for recovery.
How to restore breastfeeding
After treatment of coronavirus in breastfeeding, WHO and UNICEF recommend for relaxation:
- Interact with the infant as often as possible, including using breast massage and skin-to-skin contact to increase the lactation-enhancing hormonal response;
- make sure that the baby regularly sucks on the right and left breast – about 15 minutes for each, on average at least 8-12 times a day, trying not to rule out night feedings;
- Make sure the baby is in the right position during the breastfeeding to enable the baby to suckle effectively and prevent nipple trauma
- when separated from the baby up to 8-10 times a day to massage the breast and decant the milk;
- pay attention to how the baby’s stomach is working.
If you have questions about how to start breastfeeding again with covid that has been cured, you should seek guidance from the pediatrician overseeing the baby.
How can I avoid infecting my infant with COVID-19?
If the health condition of a mother with diagnosed covid or suspected covid allows continuing independent breastfeeding, the main thing that experts recommend doing is to strictly and carefully follow all hygienic requirements. Scientific studies have confirmed the possibility and necessity of breastfeeding a baby with mother’s milk for at least 6 months.
By limiting to a minimum the contacts of your child with strangers, and communicating with him only in a mask and after careful treatment of hands, a woman, even in case of infection with coronavirus, has all chances to maintain the health of her child. Keeping the house clean, avoiding sneezing and coughing in his presence are additional measures that significantly reduce this possibility.