What you need to know about Coronavirus and breastfeeding

coronavirus and breastfeeding

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The coronavirus is inescapable. I don’t mean you’re doomed to catch it and die a horrible death…I mean you literally cannot escape hearing about it everywhere you go. And if you’re like me, you go between hating the topic and being morbidly curious. Especially if you’re trying to prepare for coronavirus and you’re breastfeeding.

I didn’t want to talk about it. Really, I didn’t.

I promised myself I’d stay quiet, just on principle alone. Because honestly, I think too many people are saying way too much anyway.

But there’s so much fear out there right now that I feel like I’d be a bad friend if I didn’t share a few very important things that’ll hopefully help you rest easier.

Joke Disclaimer: I don’t take the coronavirus threat lightly or consider it to be a joke. If I sound light-hearted or crack a joke, that’s merely my own bumbling attempt to keep from being boring.

Medical Disclaimer: I am not a Coronavirus expert. No one is. Even the “experts” are learning on the fly. But I’m not even one of those scientists. I just read a lot. This is not medical advice. Do not use this article to diagnose, cure, or treat any illness. If you think you or your baby is sick, please get medical help.

Coronavirus and breastfeeding

Here are the basic things that nursing moms should know about coronavirus:

  1. You have pretty a low chance of contracting the coronavirus. I know, it sort of feels like we’re being stalked by our own personal boogeyman. But it’s not actually gunning for us, and age works on our side in this.
  2. If you do happen to contract it, you’ve got an excellent chance of survival. Unless of course, you’re elderly…in which case, I want to talk to you about the baby you’re breastfeeding.
  3. If you’re diagnosed with coronavirus and you’ve been near your baby in the last 14 days, then they’ve been exposed to it. The best thing you can do to help your baby is to KEEP BREASTFEEDING!

    I wasn’t really yelling. Okay, kind of. I was kinda really yelling. But this is the important part that so many of us forget when we get sick. When you’re sick, you make antibodies for that particular illness & those antibodies pass through breastmilk to your baby. Keep breastfeeding. Please. Read more about how breastmilk changes to meet baby’s needs.

    There is a caveat to this though…in the interest of your baby’s safety, always wash your hands very thoroughly before touching your baby, breasts, breast pump, bottles, or expressed milk. Express milk and let someone (who isn’t sick) bottle-feed it to your baby. That would be the best thing to do.
  4. According to this amazing Ars Technica article, children seem to be more resistant to coronavirus and they are getting milder cases. The article links all the appropriate studies to back up the data. I don’t know about you, but that alone makes me feel better.
  5. Protect yourself by
    • frequently washing your hands for at least 20 seconds,
    • not touching your mouth/nose/eyes with unwashed hands,
    • taking your vitamins,
    • staying hydrated,
    • getting as much sleep as a nursing mom possibly can, and
    • staying away from unnecessary trips to crowded areas.
coronavirus and breastfeeding

Should I wear a mask while breastfeeding?

Yes. If you’re sick, suspect you’re sick, or if you’ve been exposed, wearing a mask is one step you can take to help protect your baby.

Also, be very careful to minimize your contact with your baby. Thoroughly wash your hands before touching the baby or any surface he may come into contact with.

Breastmilk is an amazing, living substance. Continue providing your breastmilk while you’re sick, because it is very likely to contain custom antibodies which will help your baby fight off the particular strain of coronavirus that you have. Unless new information comes out about coronavirus and breastfeeding, scientists are saying that the very act of breastfeeding is beneficial right now – even if social distancing isn’t an option.

Can I transmit coronavirus through my breastmilk?

We just don’t know yet. There aren’t cases where it’s been detected in breastmilk, but this is a new disease and there’s still so much we don’t know.

However, breastmilk is the most nutrient-dense food you can feed your baby. Your body actually customizes the milk just for your baby’s needs. So there is a slight possibility that it could spread through breastmilk.

But the truth is that breastmilk builds immunity in babies against so many diseases. While there isn’t yet a lot known about coronavirus and breastfeeding, experts agree that it’s in your child’s best interest to keep breastfeeding and give them as much nutrition as possible.

Will taking my baby out of daycare prevent Coronavirus?

I get it. It’s really tempting to grab everyone you love and run for a cave. Or your living room anyway. Honestly, this is a judgement call. And not one I can make for you. But here are some thinking points as you consider it.

  • If you have reliable childcare other than the daycare, pulling them out for a while may be a good idea. But will you be able to get them re-enrolled? If your daycare is in high demand, you may have to find another facility or stay on a waiting list for a while.
  • What do you consider “safe?” Your family and friends may have a different view of safety precautions than you do. What you may consider basic precautions, they might think is overkill. Or vice versa.
  • According to the CDC, children and babies seem to be less susceptible to COVID-19 than adults, and their symptoms are “generally mild.”
  • If your baby is ever around the general public, then there’s still a risk of infection.
  • Losing your job because you don’t have childcare won’t help anyone.
  • If local schools are closed because there are so many infections within the community, then take your baby out of daycare if it’s at all possible.

The last thing I want to do is sound off more noise in all the COVID-19 chaos. Let’s all just hunker down, stay safe, and pray to God that the coronavirus pandemic dies a quick death.

And for the love of Pete, keep nursing the baby!!

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