COVID 19 Positive Moms Breastfeeding Precautions & Tips

COVID 19 Positive Moms Breastfeeding

COVID 19 Positive Moms Breastfeeding Precautions & Tips

The COVID-19 has imposed a lot of stress. This may be especially true for new moms who are not sure of breastfeeding and are concerned about their baby’s health. The good news is that as long as an infected mother takes appropriate precautions—she can breastfeed her baby as per the WHO guidelines. 

Breast milk is supposed to be the best source of nutrition for infants, including infants whose mothers have confirmed or suspected coronavirus infection. As long as an infected mother takes appropriate precautions—she can breastfeed her baby as per the WHO guidelines. 

Breast milk contains antibodies and other immunological benefits that can help protect against respiratory diseases. A growing body of evidence supports the importance of breastfeeding for a child’s growth, development, and health, as well as for helping them avoid obesity and noncommunicable diseases.

Breastfeeding During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Mother with protective mask holding her baby

Risks Involved for Breastfeeding Infants 

To date, breast milk has not been detected as the virus that causes COVID-19. However, this disease is still new and has no evidence in a larger scope. Public health officials are continuing to learn about how the virus spreads and what kind of risks it poses to infants whose mothers have the disease.

In limited studies among women with COVID-19 and another coronavirus infection (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, SARs-CoV), the virus was not detected in breast milk. In a recent study from Wuhan, China, researchers collected and tested breast milk samples (at first lactation) from six patients who had COVID-19 during pregnancy; all samples tested negative for the virus. However, more research is needed to confirm these results. Of importance, the experience obtained so far shows that the disease course of COVID-19 generally is not severe in infants and young children. The main risk of transmission appears to come from the respiratory tract of an infected mother.

Reference: WHO Breastfeeding and COVID-19

How to manage the risk?

As per the WHO’s current guidance is that women with COVID-19 can breastfeed if they wish to do so, but they should take precautions, including:

Respiratory Hygiene: Practicing respiratory hygiene during feeding, including wearing a medical or N95 mask covering both mouth and nose. When coughing or sneezing, cover the mouth and nose with a bent elbow or tissue paper. After coughing or sneezing dispose of the tissue paper and wash hands.

Basic Hygiene: Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after touching the baby. 

Avoid frequent touching of eyes, nose and mouth as that can pick up viruses. 

Routinely cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that are touched. Maintain close contact with your baby and do breastfeeding as both things help babies thrive better. 

Simple Recommendations by Ministry of Ayush 

Nutrition: Proper nutrition is to be ensured through freshly cooked hot food. Intake of comfortable warm fluids boiled with medicinal herbs (preferably Shunthi, Dalchini, Trikatu) should be used as a regular drink to maintain hydration.

Restrict the use of sweet food items and food that is heavy to digest. Also advised not to use chilled, fried, oily, fermented food items, cold and refrigerated food/beverages.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Proper diet, sleep, exercise, and social contacts with loved ones at home and by video call with other family and friends can be encouraged to keep the mental health positive and to counter stress.

Exercise and meditation, daily practice of Yogasana, Pranayama for at least 30 minutes.

Immunity Enhancers can be included with the consultation of the doctor. Guduchi, Consumption of fresh Amla fruit, Haridra Gargling with warm water added with turmeric powder and a pinch of salt or Turmeric, Frequent sipping of water processed with Tulsi, Ashwagandha root powder 3-5gm twice a day with warm milk or water. You also should have CHYAWANPRASH AVALEHA – 10 – 12 gm / 1 Spoon 

Nasal Health – Pratimarsha Nasya (2 drops of sesame / coconut oil each nostril). 

Warm water bath 

Dhupana – (fumigation) of the house every evening with antimicrobials such as Neem leaf, Sarshapa, Loban, Camphor, Ghee etc. 

Lastly, a mother with COVID-19 is encouraged to touch and hold her baby, breastfeed safely with good respiratory hygiene, hold the baby skin-to-skin, and share a room with the child. 

In general, WHO recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first six months of life. Thereafter, mothers should both breastfeed and give the child nutritious and healthy foods up to the age of two years and even beyond.

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