Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been around for over a year now and has affected almost every country in the world. Even though we have a vaccine, it will likely still be awhile before most of the global population is vaccinated. So sadly, COVID-19 is going to be apart of our lives for awhile longer.
Even though COVID-19 has been around for many months and most of us are all too familiar with the concept of social distancing and face masks, we still have many questions. One of the most common questions I am asked during my lactation class is "Can I still breastfeed if I get COVID-19?". And the answer is yes, but keep reading and I'll explain how to keep your baby healthy while you are nursing.
What is Coronavirus? A quick review
What is Coronavirus? It is a respiratory virus similar to influenza. Common symptoms are fever, cough, loss of smell and/or taste, and shortness of breath which can appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. The symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. Some people have no symptoms at all and others have severe symptoms that require hospitalization.
Most of the people who get it do not suffer serious complications. Healthcare experts have also observed that children are less likely to get the virus and if they do, it is very mild according to the CDC. However, children with underlying health conditions may be at an increased risk for more severe symptoms.
The elderly and adults with weakened immune systems also appear to be the most at risk for suffering severe complications from the virus. The good news is that most adults that contract the virus seem to be recover well.
Breastfeeding and Coronavirus
Since Coronavirus is still a very new illness, health officials are gaining new information and insight about it literally everyday. According to UNICEF and the CDC mothers should continue to give their child breast milk even if they have tested positive for the virus. Everyone agrees that breastfeeding has tremendous benefits for baby's health.
If a mother is suspected to have COVID-19 or has a confirmed case:
- Wash your hands thoroughly before breastfeeding, pumping and handling your baby.
- Mothers can continue to breastfeed like normal, however it is highly encouraged for mothers to wear a mask when in contact with baby.
- If the mother is not feeling well enough to breastfeed, then if possible they should express breast milk by hand expression or use a pump. A healthy member of the home should feed baby with a bottle, cup or spoon while wearing a mask.
If you do notice that your baby is beginning to show symptoms such as fever, cough, or change in appetite, make sure to contact your healthcare provider right away.
If you you have COVID-19 or suspect that you do, stick to the quarantine guidelines. If your symptoms include dehydration, fever that can't be controlled by medication, or a dramatically worsening cough or difficulty breathing, give your health provider a call to figure out next steps. They would rather have you call sooner than waiting until you need to go to the hospital.
I hope everyone stays healthy!!!