Should Moms Breastfeed If Coronavirus (COVID-19) Symptoms
Created by Narayan Updated on Jun 04, 2020
Worried about Novel Coronavirus affecting your fetus or newborn baby? Read the learnings as collected from various experts on the frontline. The safety of expecting moms and newborns has been a worldwide concern during the Coronavirus pandemic. Many countries have proactively tried to issue guidelines for breastfeeding mothers and expecting women on staying safe from the COVID-19 infection. However, a lot more needs to be done to find a concrete path for ensuring safety.
What do We Know So Far About COVID-19 Effects on Moms?
So far 38 cases have been documented of women contacting novel Coronavirus while pregnant and then giving birth to a baby. Here’s a summary of observations:
- Transmission of coronavirus through breastmilk is not a concern as of now. Whether to breastfeed or not, should be decided by the mom and family and caretakers.
- Infected mothers should take all the precautions to not spread the virus to the baby via respiratory droplets.
What Precautions to Take for Breastfeeding Under Coronavirus Infection?
Although so far the evidence suggests that the novel Coronavirus infection doesn’t pass on to the newborn in the mother’s womb or through breastmilk, droplets from infected mothers can still affect the baby. Thus, here are the step by step precautions you must take to safeguard the baby:
- Use Face Mask: Wear a mask at all times (even while breastfeeding) while handling the baby
- Always Wash Hands: Always wash your hands before touching the baby
Sneeze in Your Elbow: You may happen to sneeze or cough during breastfeeding. Practice doing so in the elbow of your less dominant hand; i.e.
- In the left-hand elbow if you are a right-handed person
- In the right-hand elbow if you are a left-handed person
- Using Tissues: Alternatively, you can use tissues to cough or sneeze while breastfeeding. Put these issues in a solution of soap and water, before disposing of them.
Note: Soap water will dissolve the virus within a few minutes and render the tissues neutral. Do not reuse the tissues in any case, and wash hands thoroughly (for at least 30 seconds to 1 min.) with soap after disposing of the tissues.
What to Do with Masks Before Throwing In the Trash
Follow the same procedure with masks as well before throwing them in the trash. [Read More: Ways to Safely Dispose of Anti Bacterial, Precautionary, Masks Used By Patients, Caregivers & Consequences of Improper Disposal of Masks]
Using Electric or Manual Breast Pump
This can be a preferable solution in these situations. Especially when you are feeling tired because of infection. Take care of the following steps while using this method of breastfeeding:
Always keep the mask on your mouth and nose while pumping
Always wash your hands before touching the pump,
Clean your breasts with a disinfectant solution like Dettol, Savlon or simple soap-water solution before pumping
Sanitizing the pump from outside:
If someone else is transferring the milk from the pump to bottle, make sure the equipment is sanitized from outside after pumping is complete
Use a soap-water solution or disinfectants like Dettol or Savlon
Cover the openings of the bottle to ensure disinfectant does not enter the milk
Transfering the Milk to Store:
Better let a non-infected person continue this process after the last step
If you are doing it yourself, make sure to wash your hands
Keep the mask on.
Read here: Safely Store Breast Milk for Your Baby?
Feeding the baby: A healthy person can do so with a clean bottle.
Clean the breast pump after use. Read here: How To Clean A Breast Pump?
Does Novel Coronavirus Not Affect Children?
This is one of the numerous myths circulating on social media. The fact is children do get infected and have symptoms of illness from COVID-19 infection. All the studies point to the following facts in this regard:
- Children Are Infected: The virus does infect the children, however, at a lower rate than adults
- Child Will Have Symptoms: Most of the affected children showed one or the other symptoms. However, the severity of these symptoms has been much lower than adults.
Remember, that this virus is so new and has been behaving in a unique manner, than any other virus from the same family. The result of this combination of novelty and uniqueness is that even the best experts are only watching the development without any conclusive comments.
Therefore, precaution is the best cure for now. To summarise - maintain social distance, wash hands, cover the face, and maintain hygiene religiously. Avoid the infection as long as possible, and give the experts time to find a cure or a vaccination. That is the best thing we can do as general public.
1. Novel coronavirus infection and pregnancy - Yang - - Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynecology | Wiley Online Library
3. Coronavirus infection and pregnancy | RCOG UK
7. Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) | ACOG