Is it safe for a mother to breastfeed if she is infected with COVID-19?
Babies depend on breast milk 100% since that’s the only source of food and nutrients they are exposed to. Exclusive breastfeeding protects all newborns from any type of illness and helps protect them throughout their infancy and childhood. Child immunity depends entirely on the milk they are getting and for how long. Exclusive breastfeeding is advised for up to 6 months, and healthy breastfeeding is done up to between 18 months and 2 years with the help of other health substitutes and foods. (Vassilopoulou E, at el 2021) Breastfeeding is particularly effective for all diseases including infectious diseases. During breastfeeding antibodies are transferred from the mother to the child, therefore, strengthening the immune system.
A mother with covid 19 symptoms should ensure that they maintain distance with the child and avoid direct or skin contact with the child. Precautions should be highly observed while breastfeeding. A mother should wear a mask especially if there is difficulty in breathing or sneezing, and sanitize properly before getting to the child. If the symptoms are at worse levels the mother can express the milk to ensure the baby is well fed. To ensure that the child is safe all mothers ought to practice proper hygiene.
All the surfaces the child is at should be regularly and thoroughly washed and sanitized. Mothers should get enough canceling to ensure that they know what they are doing to protect the infant does not affect their mental health. In case the child develops covid 19 related symptoms immediate hospitalization is required. (Cheema R, at el 2020)
To anyone helping in caregiving to the infant, there are measures also to be taken. Ensure that all the babies’ utensils are well sterilized with hot water and kept in well-ventilated places with direct sunlight. Limit the number of people accessing the mother and the child to avoid foreign viruses. (Cheema R, at el 2020)
Cheema, R., Partridge, E., Kair, L. R., Kuhn-Riordon, K. M., Silva, A. I., Bettinelli, M. E., … & Blumberg, D. (2020). Protecting breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic. American journal of perinatology.
Vassilopoulou, E., Feketea, G. M., Koumbi, L. J., Mesiari, C., Berghea, C. E., & Konstantinou, G. N. (2021). Breastfeeding and COVID-19: From nutrition to immunity. Frontiers in Immunology, 12, 946.