Despite children being at low risk for COVID-19, a lot of mothers are still wary about breastfeeding during COVID-19. This mainly stems from the fact that the virus is highly contagious, and we know very little about what effects it can have on the body, especially for a growing child.
But according to the World Health Organization (WHO), mothers cannot pass the virus on to their babies through breastmilk. The organization also released guidelines regarding safety for breastfeeding mothers.
How Safe is Breastfeeding During COVID-19?
According to WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, they have studied the possible risks of breastfeeding during the coronavirus outbreak. He shares, “We know that children are at relatively low risk of COVID-19, but are at high risk of numerous other diseases and conditions that breastfeeding prevents.” Adhanom continues, “Based on the available evidence, WHO’s advice is that the benefits of breastfeeding outweigh any potential risks of transmission of COVID-19.”
A senior adviser in WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and research, Anshu Banerjee, added that they only found fragments of the virus in breastmilk. According to Banerjee, “So far we have not been able to detect live virus in breast milk. So the risk of transmission from mother to child so far has not been established.”
Despite this, it is still important for mothers to practice the necessary safety precautions in order to keep their babies safe. Here are some of the recommendations made by the WHO:
- If you have a cough or cold, be sure to wear a face mask when breastfeeding or whenever you are near your child.
- Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before holding your child.
- Make sure to keep your surroundings clean, and disinfect any surfaces that might have come in contact with persons carrying the virus.
- If you are sick with COVID-19, be sure to keep your distance from your child. Instead, you can use a pump in order to collect the breast milk.
- If you do not feel well, do not force yourself to breastfeed your child.
- As much as possible, try to stay at home. However, if you need to go outside, it would be best to practice social distancing and keep your distance from others.
At the moment, there is still no cure for COVID-19. And despite children being at low risk if they get infected, their health should always be a top priority.
Why is breastfeeding so important?
The WHO has recognizes breastfeeding as one of the most important things that a mother can do to support her newborn baby’s health. Breast milk is ideal for infants since it contains all of the nutrients that their body requires. Ideally, mothers should exclusively breastfeed their children for at least 6 months. This helps them stay healthy and develop normally.
Breastmilk also provides a boost to a newborn’s frail immune system. This helps protect them from illness until their body has developed the necessary immunity in order to combat these diseases.
Aside from this, breastfeeding also creates a lasting bond between a mother and her child that also helps in the development of the child’s brain.
Lastly, breastfeeding can lower the risk of postpartum bleeding and improves the mother’s recovery after giving birth.
Important tips to know about breastfeeding
Breastfeeding can sometimes be difficult, especially for new moms. This is also one reason why some moms give up on nursing their child completely. In order to help make things easier, here are some important tips and facts about breastfeeding:
- Do not be afraid to ask for help. You can consult your doctor, or the nurses in the hospital if you need assistance with nursing your child. Having your mother or a close relative guide you is also a good way to learn the proper way to breastfeed.
- Let your baby tell you when they are hungry. Watch out for signs that your baby is hungry, such as crying, restlessness, or lip movements. Over time, you will get used to noticing these signs and can know when it’s time to nurse your baby.
- Your child should sleep in the same room, but not on the same bed. This not only makes it easier to know if your baby is hungry, but also reduces the risk of SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome.
- Be sure to take care of your nipples. Over time, your nipples can get sore and chapped, and this can make nursing your child very painful. Try to use as few cleansers as possible on your nipples when you take a bath, and use a breastfeeding-safe cream or lotion, or pure lanolin in order to moisturize your nipples.
- Have a healthy diet in order to keep your milk healthy. Avoid drinking, smoking, or eating foods that are too spicy or smelly as these can affect your breastmilk.
- Be mindful of your medication. If you are taking certain types of medication, ask your doctor if they are safe to take when breastfeeding. If not, try to ask for alternatives so you can keep breastfeeding.
Lastly, don’t give up! A lot of mothers have struggled with breastfeeding, and you are not alone. Always remember that it takes some getting used to, and figuring out how to best nurse your child can be a challenge. But the benefits for your little one are absolutely worth it.
Stay updated on the latest news and information on the COVID-19 pandemic, here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.