Moms who are ill are afraid to breastfeed their babies because they are terrified of infecting their little one with the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mothers' breast milk contains antibodies and immunological factors that are recommended sources of nutrition that would protect infants from diseases.
Can I breastfeed my baby after contracting COVID-19?
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that moms infected with COVID-19 could continue breastfeeding their babies if they wish to do so. The organization also noted that early and exclusive breastfeeding, including close contact, could help a baby to thrive. A mom who contracted the virus should share a room with her baby and should be given support to have skin-to-skin contact with her baby.
The editor-in-chief of "Breastfeeding Medicine," Arthur I. Eidelman, M.D., said that mothers who are suspected of having or are positive for COVID-19 do not need to be separated from their infants unless they could not take care of her baby properly. He also said that it is okay for mothers to either breastfeed their baby or feed with expressed milk.
What are the precautionary measures to take while breastfeeding?
Although it is safe to breastfeed their babies, moms should follow precautionary measures while nursing their infant. The WHO said that mothers should do the following to protect their babies from being infected:
- Wear a face mask to cover their mouth to prevent infected droplets from going to their baby.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after touching the baby.
- Make it a habit to clean and disinfect surfaces and things that the infected person touches and uses.
This suggestion is not limited to those moms showing symptoms. The CDC said that even asymptomatic mothers should wear face masks while breastfeeding directly and wash their hands before touching their babies.
The organization also said that if the mother is using a manual pump or electric pump, she should wash her hands before touching any part or accessory of the pumping machine and clean the pump properly following the recommendations. It also stated that it would be better if another person who is well would feed the expressed milk to the baby.
What are the benefits of breastfeeding after getting COVID-19?
La Leche League International said that the best way to protect a baby from becoming ill is by breastfeeding because it reduces the severity of a baby's illness.
A document by the World Health Organization (WHO) said that breastfeeding could protect against morbidity and death during the post-neonatal period and throughout infancy and childhood. Infectious diseases are prevented by direct transfer of antibodies and other anti-infective factors that provide long-lasting transfer of immunological competence and memory.
The CDC states that breast milk could protect babies from many illnesses and that only rare exceptions when feeding breast milk are not recommended.
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