Dr Indu Taneja throws light on whether or not breastfeeding during the COVID-19 outbreak is advisable or not.
With physical distancing being the new normal, new and nursing mothers are conflicted about what they should be doing.
In this article, The Better India talks to Dr Indu Taneja, Fortis Healthcare, Faridabad, to get answers to some questions regarding COVID-19 and the concerns of lactating mothers.
“Most of the studies published so far on the impact of COVID-19 on pregnant women and lactating women points to that fact that, as of now, the virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breast milk. Therefore the understanding is that COVID-19 is not vertically transmitted from mother to the foetus,” says Dr Taneja.
However, Dr Taneja adds that there is a chance of COVID-19 passing on to the baby during delivery. She goes to say that, so far, studies also show that COVID-19 is not passed through breast milk, and therefore by exercising caution new mothers and lactating mothers should continue to nurse.
What Precautions Should a Nursing Mother Take?
- Wash your hands regularly, especially before you start feeding
- Refrain from touching your face
- Wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth
- Take a sterile cloth and place the baby on it while feeding
- Also ensure that you follow the rules of social distancing and do not allow anyone from outside inside the house
- If you are expressing milk, then ensure that you sterilise the breast pump before and after each use
Can I still Breastfeed if I am COVID-19 Positive?
According to the World Health Organisation, women who have tested positive for COVID-19 can breastfeed if they wish to do so. They should ensure that they practice respiratory hygiene, including wearing masks during feeding. They must also ensure that all surfaces touched should be routinely cleaned and disinfected.
Stressing on the importance of breast milk, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says breast milk provides protection against many illnesses and is the best source of nutrition for most infants. In limited studies, COVID-19 has not been detected in breast milk; however, we do not know for sure whether mothers with COVID-19 can spread the virus via breast milk.
Dr Taneja recommends that lactating mothers consume Vitamin C and Zinc and ensure that they stay well-hydrated all through. She says, “Breastfeeding and lactating mothers sweat a lot and therefore it is important that they stay hydrated.”
In conclusion, Dr Taneja reiterates the point that in order to flatten the curve, we must stay home and take all precautions to maintain hygiene.
Feature image: Ravina Sodhi Photography.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)