A Quick COVID-19 Guide for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mothers
***Information on COVID-19 is rapidly evolving, and this guide could become outdated by the time you read it. For the most up to date information, please visit the CDC information page at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html
COVID-19 is a new strain of coronavirus identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness. The investigation to determine more about this outbreak is still going on. However, UNICEF, CDC, and AAP have provided guidance for pregnant and breastfeeding moms.
For Pregnant Women
According to the CDC, we do not currently know if pregnant people have a greater chance of getting sick from COVID-19 than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have a serious illness as a result. However, we do know that pregnant people have changes in their bodies that may increase their risk of some infections. Pregnant people have had a higher risk of severe illness when infected with viral respiratory infections, such as influenza. Pregnant people should always protect themselves from COVID-19 as well as other illnesses.
CDC recommends pregnant women:
Avoid people who are sick or who have been exposed to the virus.
Clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily.
CDC also points out that mother-to-child transmission of coronavirus during pregnancy is unlikely, but after birth, a newborn is susceptible to person-to-person spread. A very small number of babies have tested positive for the virus shortly after birth. However, it is unknown if these babies got the virus before birth. The virus has not been detected in amniotic fluid, breastmilk, or other maternal samples.
For Breastfeeding Mom
Considering the protection that breastmilk provides against many illnesses, UNICEF, CDC, AAP all encourage mothers to breastfeed as much as they can in the midst of the pandemic.
What if the mom has COVID-19? So far, COVID-19 has not been detected in breast milk, so the organizations listed above say that mothers can continue breastfeeding while applying all the necessary precautions.
According to AAP, If an infected mother decides to breastfeed, she should wear a face mask and wash her hands. If the mother is separated from their infants, she should express breastmilk but should wash their hands thoroughly and disinfect the pump and bottles. Someone who is healthy should feed the child.
Arthur I. Eidelman, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Breastfeeding Medicine, stated in a research published in early March: “Given the reality that mothers infected with coronavirus have probably already colonized their nursing infant, continued breastfeeding has the potential of transmitting protective maternal antibodies to the infant via the breast milk. Thus, breastfeeding should be continued with the mother carefully practicing handwashing and wearing a mask while nursing, to minimize additional viral exposure to the infant.”
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