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Can a mother with COVID-19 infection breastfeed her baby?

Before feeding the baby, the mother should wash her hands well with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser.

By: Parenting Desk | Published: April 16, 2020 1:33:07 pm
breastfeeding, coronavirus Wear a face mask while breastfeeding. (Source: Getty Images)

Experts recommend breastfeeding the baby for at least the first six months after birth. Breast milk is beneficial for the baby as it provides all essential nutrients and boosts his or her immunity. But at the time of social distancing to avoid transmission of coronavirus, is it safe for the mother to breastfeed the baby?

Whether the mother is suspected to have or tested positive with COVID-19, she should be encouraged to breastfeed in both cases, Ruth Patterson, chief lactation consultant, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru, told Express Parenting. “Till now, there is no evidence that breastmilk can transmit the virus. The mother, however, has to be counselled well on her hygiene,” she said.

How to feed the baby if you show symptoms

Before feeding the baby, the mother should wash her hands well with soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser. While feeding, the mother should wear a face mask as a protective measure so that there is no transmission via respiratory droplets. Make sure the face mask fits well around the face and covers the mouth and face completely. One should also maintain a safe distance between their face and the baby while feeding, advised Patterson.

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“If the mother is showing severe symptoms and needs medical attention, she could be advised to express the milk and give it to the caretaker who should be able to feed the child. The caretaker should also follow sanitation practices before feeding. If the milk is not expressed, it will accumulate and cause more trouble to the mother. Apart from handwashing and cleaning the breasts, the pump should be disinfected before use. The mother should wash her hands before and after collecting milk,” the lactation consultant added.

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She further advised that the mother and the baby’s surroundings should be thoroughly cleaned at intervals, with soap and water. The baby should be touched with utmost precaution. If the mother is COVID-19 positive, she can wear a gown and feed and can take it off after feeding, besides taking the regular sanitary measures. It is further recommended that you speak to a lactation consultant to take necessary measures, now that doctors are providing teleconsultation services to patients.

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