*This will be updated frequently to reflect the most current guidelines and recommendations. This article is to provide general information and is not medical advice. Contact your health care professional for more information.
(Last update: 26/3/20 4:30pm Brisbane, Australia GTM +10 timezone)
There is never a time we feel more vulnerable than when we become mothers. Suddenly we have another life to look after that is not our own, and this feeling continues throughout our lifetime raising them. As a breastfeeding mother, everything is even more amplified as we are the one who is feeding our child, comforting our child, mothering THROUGH breastfeeding 24/7. As we know, breastfeeding is about providing more than just “the milk” and the thought of not being able to breastfeed is terrifying. My sister is currently in self-isolation with her 5 month old, her 4 year old and her husband. She is so scared of what will happen if she or her husband get sick and she is unable to care for her children or if her children get sick. It’s an overwhelming feeling to have, especially for her as she is so anxious at the best of times. The good news though is that to date, the virus has not been found in amniotic fluid or breastmilk . You can continue to breastfeed if you have COVID-19 or you can give your expressed milk to your child if you’re too sick to breastfeed.
*Your baby can stay with you if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
*You can breastfeed your baby if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
*If you cannot breastfeed your baby because you are too sick, you can pump your milk and have someone else feed the milk to your baby.
*Ask for help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant if you have to be hospitalised. This will help ensure someone is advocating for you and your breastfed child.
COVID-19 RESOURCES FOR PREGNANT AND BREASTFEEDING WOMEN
(Click on the red text for a direct link to each resource)
“Considering the benefits of breastfeeding and the insignificant role of breastmilk in the transmission of other respiratory viruses, the mother can continue breastfeeding, while applying all the necessary precautions.”
“Can a woman with COVID-19 breastfeed? Yes. Women with COVID-19 can breastfeed if they wish to do so. They should:
- Practice respiratory hygiene during feeding, wearing a mask where available;
- Wash hands before and after touching the baby;
- Routinely clean and disinfect surfaces they have touched.”
“Women who wish to breastfeed their babies should be encouraged and supported to do so. At the moment there is no evidence that the virus is carried in breastmilk and, therefore, the well-recognised benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of COVID-19 through breastmilk. If the mother has COVID-19 infection she should not be automatically separated from her baby, but should take enhanced precautions with general hygiene and consider a face mask when feeding.”
“It is reassuring that in six Chinese cases tested, breastmilk was negative for COVID-19; 1 however, given the small number of cases, this evidence should be interpreted with caution. The main risk for infants of breastfeeding is the close contact with the mother, who is likely to share infective airborne droplets. In the light of the current evidence, we advise that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of the virus through breastmilk. The risks and benefits of breastfeeding, including the risk of holding the baby in close proximity to the mother, should be discussed with her. This guidance may change as knowledge evolves.”
“A mother with confirmed COVID-19 or who is a symptomatic PUI should take all possible precautions to avoid spreading the virus to her infant, including washing her hands before touching the infant and wearing a face mask, if possible, while feeding at the breast. If expressing breast milk with a manual or electric breast pump, the mother should wash her hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use. If possible, consider having someone who is well feed the expressed breast milk to the infant.”
We are all having a really hard time and it’s OK to feel scared, sad, alone and in need of support. Reach out to your friends and family. Make sure to chat with people everyday over social media, the phone, or over video. Connect with people in other ways since we are all social distancing. We can still connect…just in a different way. And we’re all in this together. ♥♥♥ We will get through this. We can do hard things. xx Meg