*This article is to provide general information and is not medical advice. Contact your health care professional for more information.
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. I am repeatedly hearing stories of mothers being separated from their newborns. However, all guidelines say you can stay WITH your baby following birth (even if you are infected with COVID-19. 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 below 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.”
“Transmission of active COVID-19 (virus that can cause infection) through breast milk and breastfeeding has not been detected to date. There is no reason to avoid or stop breastfeeding. Breastfeeding boosts the child’s immune system, and the mother’s antibodies are passed on to the child through breast milk, helping the child fight infections.”
“Our data suggest that perinatal transmission of COVID-19 is unlikely to occur if correct hygiene precautions are undertaken, and that allowing neonates to room in with their mothers and direct breastfeeding are safe procedures when paired with effective parental education of infant protective strategies.” https://doi.org/10.1016/S2352-4642(20)30235-2
“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.”
“Given the current limited evidence, we advise that women and healthy babies, not otherwise requiring neonatal care, are kept together in the immediate postpartum period. 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.”
“Families can now be informed that evidence to date suggests that the risk of the newborn acquiring infection during the birth hospitalization is low when precautions are taken to protect newborns from maternal infectious respiratory secretions. This risk appears to be no greater if mother and infant room-in together using infection control measures compared to physical separation of the infant in a room separate from the mother.”
“If you are sick and choose to direct breastfeed: Wear a facemask and wash your hands before each feeding.”
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