We are continuing to learn about the Covid-19 virus and how we can better prepare. This is especially true if you are a breastfeeding mom! There have been studies that show how having the virus can affect you, your breastfeeding baby, and how to best prepare if you get sick. Read on to learn what information is out there to protect your family!
Can You Breastfeed If You Have Covid?
The short answer is yes! It is perfectly safe to breastfeed if you have covid.
There isn’t any reason to stop breastfeeding while you are sick, however, there are some precautions you can take.
For example, if you have tested positive but your baby has not, it is safe to wear a mask around your baby. It would be ideal for another caregiver to be available during this time, especially if you are a pumping mama. However, if that isn’t an option or you are nursing, you can practice being safe through other simple actions like washing your hands frequently. The article “Breastfeeding and COVID-19: From Nutrition to Immunity” discusses other precautions you can take such as cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, pumping and allowing another family member to feed your baby, and not falling asleep with your baby while you are sick.
Additionally, you might find a dip in your supply if you are breastfeeding with Covid. However, that isn’t because of the virus… It’s most likely because you are sick. It is easy to become dehydrated or not eat as much when you aren’t feeling well, but you need those nutrients and fluids to increase your supply. Remember, try to stay hydrated and your milk supply should stay intact!
How To Care For Yourself When You Have Covid
If you aren’t feeling well, it’s important to take care of yourself!
The CDC explains that if you are pregnant or were recently pregnant, you have a higher chance of getting very sick with covid. This can make caring for your newborn difficult. As mentioned above, if you have other family members who can act as a caregiver while you are sick, this can be a huge help. It will allow you to safely isolate and get much-needed rest.
However, if you are the only caregiver available or everyone else in your family is sick, there are still ways you can safely care for yourself and your baby. Make sure you clean and disinfect used surfaces and items in your home to help prevent spreading the virus. It’s also a good idea to keep hand sanitizer nearby so you can use it while caring for your baby. And, as mentioned above, wash your hands frequently and wear a mask whenever you are around your baby. Lastly, try to limit the number of sick caregivers around your child.
Caring for a Baby With Covid-19
If you are sick, there is always a chance that the virus will spread to your baby. The CDC explains that you should be on the lookout for signs such as:
- Cough or runny nose
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Not wanting to eat or being inactive
- Shallow breathing
You should also contact your pediatrician if you see any of these signs and make them aware of the situation. They can give you some additional advice and talk to you about possible medications (if your baby is old enough).
Are There Benefits to Breastfeeding With Covid?
If you get sick, you can actually pass antibodies on through your breastmilk and to your baby!
One study done in 2021 found that there were antibodies present in the breast milk of women who were previously sick with the virus.
Another study aimed to find out whether a Covid-19 vaccination could allow a breastfeeding mom to pass more antibodies to their babies. In this study, they found that an mRNA-based vaccine is the best way for a breastfeeding mom to pass on additional antibodies.
Breast Milk is naturally full of amazing nutrients and antibodies, making it extremely beneficial for your child. It can help prevent and prepare their little bodies for the outside world! Although we are still studying the effects of Covid-19 vaccinations and antibodies in babies, some studies show positive results.
Is it Possible To Start Breastfeeding Again If I Have Been Isolated From My Baby?
Re-lactation can be difficult but it is possible for many moms to go back to breastfeeding after being away from their baby for a short period of time.
However, you can actually prevent the need for re-lactation by pumping while away from your baby. I would recommend staying on the same schedule your baby typically uses to keep your milk supply steady!
You can boost your supply in many ways. For example, power pumping is a great option where you pump for an extended amount of time for a few sessions to increase your letdown response.
Additionally, you can add in extra pumping or nursing sessions to increase your supply. If you are exclusively nursing, allowing your baby to nurse whenever they want can be a huge help.
If you have more questions about boosting your supply, I offer lactation services to help! We can discuss any of your questions and I can share tips and advice to support you in your breastfeeding journey.
Safe Breastfeeding Practices With Covid-19
If you are pumping while away from your baby, there are some ways you can prevent contamination from occurring. Although breast milk won’t pass the virus to your baby, it is possible to spread the virus through other surfaces such as bottles or pump parts.
It is extremely important to wash your hands before pumping so the milk does not become contaminated. Additionally, you should still wear a mask while pumping. Clean your pump after each use, and if possible, have another caregiver feed your baby.
Being a Breastfeeding Mom During Covid-19
There will always be some type of struggle when it comes to being a breastfeeding mom, but luckily, we can continue to learn how to combat obstacles like Covid-19! As long as you are able, it is perfectly safe to continue breastfeeding if you are sick… and it actually can help your baby, too!
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