There is no denying that breastmilk has innumerable benefits for newborns. Breastfeeding transfers antibodies from the mother and strengthens the baby’s immune system, thereby safeguarding it against infectious diseases. With Coronavirus on the rise for the past year and showing no signs of waning, it has become even more imperative to provide ample breastmilk nourishment to newborns.
Things to consider about breastfeeding during COVID-19
Given the dangers that COVID-19 poses, mothers are often wary of breastfeeding; they worry about the virus passing on to the baby through breastmilk. Fortunately, evidence from intensive research studies strongly supports breastfeeding. Follow the tips mentioned below to protect your infant from COVID-19.
Tips for breastfeeding
1. Hygiene is paramount - Studies suggest that coronavirus isn’t found in breastmilk. So, mothers can continue to breastfeed their children as long as they practice good hygiene whilst feeding. To begin with, mothers should always wear a mask whenever they are in contact with the newborn. Also, it is advisable to wash hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before and after touching the baby. If water and soap are unavailable, wash hands with a hand sanitizer containing 60 percent alcohol. Regularly wipe and disinfect surfaces.
2. If you have COVID-19 - In case you get infected with coronavirus, you must continue breastfeeding the baby if you’re not too ill. Whether you got infected before or after you started breastfeeding, your milk will contain the antibodies your child needs to fight against Covid. No other supplement can protect them against the virus. Continue practicing all the necessary hygiene practices. Also, breastfeed your child after every 2-3 hours. When not breastfeeding, keep the baby at least 6 feet away from yourself. If possible, let a healthy and uninfected caregiver take care of the baby.
3. When you’re too weak to breastfeed - If you are too sick to breastfeed the child, immediately seek medical advice. Express the milk and ask a non-infected caregiver or relative to feed the baby using a cup and spoon. Remember to follow all the hygiene guidelines.
4. Alternative feeding methods - If breastfeeding isn’t feasible, various other options can be explored. For instance, you can try relactation. You can also use human donor milk or appoint a wet nurse depending upon the availability of such services. Furthermore, mothers can also use breast pumps to express breast milk. If you are a mother who prefers to use a breast pump instead of breastfeeding, make sure to take the proper sanitary precautions. Never share your breast pump with anyone. Always wear a mask and wash your hands with soap or use a good sanitizer before and after expressing breast milk. Finally, make sure that the pump is cleaned properly every time you use it.
Breastfeeding is the only way to keep infants safe from the threats posed by the coronavirus. As long as you heed the precautions and measures suggested by WHO, your infant will continue to thrive in these trying times.
Published on: 10th May 2021