Mother’s milk is a natural complete food for the baby. It works as the first natural vaccine for the baby. So every baby deserves to be breastfed and WHO (World Health Organization) and UNICEF recommends 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding.
But what if the Mother is infected by Covid-19?
Due to pandemic, this thought always kept running through my mind. What if this happens with me? What about my son? He is still dependent on me. Not completely but breastfeeding is still a major part of his daily diet as he is not even a year old yet. How many more mothers out there who think about the same or are suspected. I’m sure them and many more Moms like me must be having these questions bothering them.
So I thought of doing a little research of my own to get answers to all my questions and more.
First and foremost thing is to maintain social distancing. If you are a mom-to-be or a mother of an infant/toddler, the best thing you can do is keep yourself away from the crowd. Prevention is always better than cure.
Can a Covid-19 infected mother breastfeed her baby?
According to WHO, Covid-19 does not transmit through breastmilk. A newborn baby or a feeding baby should definitely be breastfed. Early start in breastfeeding after birth helps in building the baby’s immunity by direct transfer of antibodies and essential nutrients through breastmilk.
How can a Covid-19 infected mother prevent transmission to her baby?
Whether a suspected mother or an infected one, proper precautions should be taken.
Wash hands and sanitize everytime before touching the baby. Wear a mask properly covering your nose and mouth and if possible a shield before holding the baby for feeding. Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces is a must. Baby’s clothes and other stuff should be washed and sanitized properly and frequently.
What if the mother is severely sick or is in medical emergency and is not able to feed her baby?
If the infected mother is severely ill and unable to breastfeed the baby, she can opt for expressing/pumping her breastmilk that a family member can spoon feed the baby. Bottle feeding probably should be avoided for newborns. Donor human milk is also a better option than formula milk and is highly recommended by pediatricians. Wet nursing is also something that is being considered as some Moms are not in favor of donor human milk which has been stored for a few days or more. Lastly is formula milk.
How can the partner and family members help the Covid-19 infected mother and baby?
During pregnancy and the child birth, the partner can be as involved as possible to build the confidence of the infected mother, of course with all the precautionary measures. After birth, the family members can help with the care giving part of the baby. If needed, the mother should be provided counselling by the gynaecologists, pediatricians and lactation experts to build her confidence in handling her baby without any concern.
Should there be social distancing maintained between the infected mother and the baby?
Absolutely not! With proper precautionary measures as mentioned earlier, social distancing need not be maintained. If done so, it might hamper the emotional well-being of the mother and the physical health of the child. Keeping baby and mother together helps in better temperature control of the baby and adjustments to the new world, less stress for the mother and better breastfeeding.
All these measures can be followed so that the mother and baby can enjoy their new beginning and also get all the benefits of liquid gold that the mother has to offer. After all, a healthy start will give a healthy future.
Disclaimer: These suggestions are for expecting/breastfeeding women who might be suspected/infected due to the pandemic. Please consult with your doctor before consuming anything or taking any steps.