In the pandemic, pregnant women and new mothers have had to exercise caution for the well-being of their baby, and of themselves. Among other things, a major concern for them has been the direct spread of infection, whether during the gestation period, or when they are breastfeeding.
While doctors have addressed and even ruled out some of their fears with regard to the transmission of the virus to the unborn or newborn, the biggest concern remains that if a new mother is Covid-positive, how would she breastfeed and how would it affect the baby.
The WHO has already confirmed that a new mother can continue to breastfeed while they were Covid-positive, as there were no indications showing the vertical transfer of the infection. But, it did give some suggestions on how to do it the proper way, so that there is no chance of transfer of infection from mother to baby.
This World Breastfeeding Week, Dr Aarthi Priyadharshini, consultant physiotherapist and lactation expert, Motherhood Hospitals, Chennai explains the steps to safe breastfeeding if the lactating woman is Covid-positive. Read on.
* The hygiene around the baby and the mother should be maintained. The baby must be placed in an incredibly clean environment to reduce the risk of infections.
* While breastfeeding, the mother should wear a mask. Wearing gloves can be an additional protection for the baby. (Do not make the mistake of making an infant wear a mask, as that can suffocate them)
* If the baby is in the neonatal intensive care unit, the mother is allowed to feed, with proper safety precautions.
* The mother should wash her hands properly at regular intervals.
* She should be properly stocked with tissues or wet wipes and must always keep them handy, so that if she coughs or sneezes, she can cover her mouth without spreading the germs. That piece of napkin or wet wipe must be instantly thrown.
* The mother should always cleanse her hands, arms, and face before touching or going near the baby.
* There should be a regular schedule where the baby’s crib, toys, and other essentials (that come into the mother’s contact) are sanitised to reduce the probability of infections.
* While being infected, it is possible that the mother might not be able to produce enough breast milk for the child, so she can think of increasing the milk supply by pumping more frequently. The pump must also be sterilized in hot water.
* If the mother is not feeling up to it or is too unwell to breastfeed, a family member (properly sanitised and healthy) can feed the expressed milk with a spoon/katori/paladai.
* The main concern is to just maintain hygiene and follow safety precautions that have been advised by doctors.