Common Questions about Safe Breastfeeding Practice

Mothers Should Continue to Nurse Their Babies during the Ongoing Pandemic.

Manipal Hospitals promotes Safe Breastfeeding Practice in the current COVID 19 situations. There is no reason to discontinue breastfeeding in the wake of the virus

Breastfeeding is crucial for your baby’s optimal growth

The importance of breastfeeding is well established in the literature and is widely promoted by all leading health organizations globally, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF). 

Some of the key advantages of Breastfeeding in babies over formula-feeding includes

  • Breastfeeding provides all the essential nutrients for the baby’s optimal physical and mental growth

  • It is easy for the baby to digest breastmilk

  • It is a rich source of antibodies, which helps the baby to build strong immunity and fight infections

  • Breastfeed babies are at lower risk of respiratory infections, allergies and diarrhoea as compared to formula-fed babies

  • Skin-to-skin contact with mothers while breastfeeding is associated with better temperature regulation of the babies and reduced anxiety of the mother. 

WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, followed by continuing breastfeeding with safe and healthy complimentary food up to 2 years of life and beyond. 

World Breastfeeding Week 2020

Every year, August 1st to 7th is celebrated as the International Breastfeeding Week to protect, promote and support breastfeeding for the best interest of the child and the mother. 

The theme of this year’s World Breastfeeding Week is “Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet” and Manipal Hospital whole-heartedly supports this noble cause. 

COVID 19 and Breastfeeding dilemma

It is natural for mothers to worry about their baby’s health, more so in the current situation. Because of the ongoing pandemic, several mothers are concerned about the risk of COVID-19 transmission in their babies while breastfeeding.

However, there is no reason to worry. You can continue to breastfeed your baby taking a few safety precautions, even if you have tested positive for COVID 19. 

There is no evidence till date to suggest that breastfeeding can increase the risk of COVID 19 transmission from mothers to babies. The benefits of breastfeeding will help outweigh the risk of potential harm from COVID 19 at this point.  

So here are a list of some common concerns and the way forward.

Should COVID 19 suspected or positive mothers continue to breastfeed?

Yes, absolutely. There is no evidence till date to suggest that breastmilk transmit COVID 19 infection. Breastfeeding should be initiated within one hour of giving birth. Breastfeeding not only provides the essential nutrients for your child’s optimal growth but also boosts the child’s immunity by providing him/her with required antibodies.

Should I stay away from my baby after giving birth?

The World Health Organization recommends practising skin to skin contact between the mother and her newborn baby owing to the following benefits of

  • Better temperature regulation in the baby

  • Lower anxiety for the mother

  • Optimal breastfeeding

What precautions should I take while breastfeeding my child?

You are recommended to follow the below hygiene practices while breastfeeding your child.

  • Wear a mask

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or rub an alcohol-based sanitizer both before and after touching our baby

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces

What if I am feeling sick and unable to breastfeed my child?

Don’t panic if you are feeling sick and not in a position to breastfeed your child. You can express your breastmilk and feed the baby the same with the help of a clean cup and spoon. 

In case you are unable to express your breastmilk, consult your physician. 

Should I breastfeed if my child is sick?

Yes, continue to breastfeed your child irrespective of his/her COVID-19 status as per UNICEF recommendations. Breastfeeding will ensure the right nutrition to promote growth and also provide your child with essential antibodies to build immunity.

 

Dr. Ravneet Joshi

Paediatrics Lactation Specialist

Manipal Hospitals Bangalore – Old Airport Road 





 

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