August 26, 2020 5:40:45 pm
By Dr Ruchi Tandon
As the Covid-19 shows no signs of easing, by washing your hands, sanitising frequently and wearing a mask, you are responsible for protecting yourself and others. But if you are a new mom, how should you breastfeed your child? Don’t worry, when it comes to feeding your little one, you can protect him or her just like you are taking care of yourself. Although scientists around the world are pursuing several different avenues to develop a vaccine, until then you can breastfeed by following a few precautions.
According to scientists, and a report from China, it is indicated that COVID-19 wasn’t found in breastmilk of healthy women and also in women who became affected by the virus in their late trimester. However, if you have contacted the virus, you must avoid any skin contact with your newborn as it can prove dangerous. But if you have questions or are unsure about anything, it is mandatory that you get in touch with your gynaecologist. They will be able to help you out and guide you in the right direction.
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How to nurse babies during the coronavirus outbreak
1. All that being said, you now know that the coronavirus spreads via touching and droplets from coughing or sneezing. So, cover yourself with a mask and even gloves if necessary and sanitise frequently. You must follow these rules when your baby is close.
2. Before you touch your baby, wash your hands carefully. Everytime you go to pick up your baby or touch their things like bottles, and more, wash your hands.
3. Don’t take off your mask near the baby. Always wear a mask. Even if you are simply playing with your baby, and especially while breastfeeding.
4. Keep your surfaces clean and disinfect them often with an alcohol-based cleaner. This includes even the countertops, bottles, changing tables, and even your baby’s clothing. Why do it frequently? Because the virus can stay on a few surfaces for almost 72 hours.
5. If you think you are experiencing the COVID-19 symptoms then you can opt to pump your breast milk and ask your family member or your partner to feed your little one. This can be a temporary solution until you get a confirmed result. Before doing it, wash your hands and clean the area of your breast. Also, make sure the bottle and the pump are sterilised. You can easily do it by placing it in boiling water after each feed. However, ensure the water doesn’t harm the plastic or the material of the bottle and pump.
6. If you are feeling too ill or sick, you don’t have to breastfeed your little one. Therefore, keep baby formula handy and use it whenever necessary. It’s okay to use formulas when absolutely necessary.
Why feeding breast milk is necessary
Breast milk is necessary because it protects your child, boosting his or her immune system. Also, it helps protect them against various illnesses and keeps them healthy. You must feed your baby breast milk at least till they turn six months old.
So, can you feed your baby during this pandemic? Yes, you can if you do not have any symptoms. Even if you have them, you can always talk to your doctor as it is important that you don’t nurse your child while under certain medications. However, if the symptoms are severe, you must avoid breastfeeding your child and get treatment immediately or consult a physician.
(The writer is Consultant Obstetrics & Gynecology, Apollo Cradle & Children’s Hospital, Nehru Place New Delhi)
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