In uncertain times of the current Covid -19 pandemic you may have been successful in maintaining social distancing from near and dear ones, colleagues and neighbors but is it really possible for a mom to distance herself from her child? The truth is no, especially if you’re still breastfeeding your baby! In fact during an emergency your child becomes all the more dependent on you and breastfeeding is no different. While there are several theories and dos and don’ts for managing the Covid situation, certified lactation consultant Arushi Agarwal gives her expert advice on the top 7 questions that new moms have been asking her about breastfeeding their child during Covid-19.
Q 1. Should I continue breastfeeding my child during the pandemic?
Absolutely! Organisations like UNICEF, the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, WHO and the CDC highly recommend and encourage moms to continue breast-feeding during the pandemic. The benefits and goodness of breast milk undeniably supersede the risk of the virus.
Q 2. Is breast milk safe during the pandemic?
UNICEF states that breastfeeding is the safest, most reliable method of infant feeding in an emergency. Breast milk is rich in antibodies that help in boosting the baby’s immunity and keeps the baby protected from falling ill. So don’t worry if you are breast-feeding your child right now! You should worry if you are not!
Q 3. Can the the virus be transmitted through breast milk?
While it is mandatory to take necessary precautions while breast-feeding the evidence for the presence of viral RNA in breast milk is limited. Further, there is no evidence for active virus in breast milk and transmission via breast milk. So, the chances of your child getting Covid-19 from your milk is almost zilch.
Q 4. I have tested positive for Covid-19. Should I continue feeding my child?
If you’re under observation or have tested positive for Covid-19 it is best for your doctor to guide you. However, there is no evidence of transmission of virus via breastfeeding so it is highly recommended for moms to continue breastfeeding while taking necessary precautions.
Q 5. What are the precautions to be observed while breast-feeding/ pumping milk?
A) Moms and Dads must maintain all rules of social distancing during the period of breast-feeding.
B) Wash hands often and follow all sanitization procedures.
C) Eat healthy to keep own immunity strong.
D) Limit the use of bottles as they can be virus-carriers at the end of the day
E) Follow best practices for pump cleaning, feeding-bottle and other equipment
G) Be and remain positive as your child can sense your anxiety and fear
Q 6. What should I do if my child is on Combination Feed?
If you are giving your child a combination of breast milk and formula then you are advised to maximize the amount of breast milk your child gets. Like any other packaged food there is a possibility of transmission through formula manufacturer factories and delivery warehouses. So, avoid formula milk as much as possible and ensure you follow best practices for preparing formula and sterilizing equipment.
Q 7. I’m considering weaning him off breast-milk. Is it a good idea?
I know you must be considering weaning your child off breast-feeding but the Covid-19 situation is a special one and it’s fine to make exceptions. Wait until the health emergency is over as your baby is safest drinking your milk. Do follow the latest guidance from your national government and the World Health Organization (WHO), as these could change as more information becomes available.
In a nut shell, breastfeeding is a key preventive health step for you and the baby during the pandemic. Stay in touch with your pediatrician at all times and you feel free to write to me for any expertise on Lactation related issues.
Arushi Agrawal Certified Lactation Consultant