Covid positive women can breastfeed babies: Experts

There is no evidence that Covid-19 positive mothers can infect infants through breastfeeding

By Author  |  Published: 20th Jun 2020  12:04 amUpdated: 19th Jun 2020  11:11 pm
breastfeed babies

Hyderabad: The Covid-19 disease and the ever evolving nature of the pandemic has kept the young mothers and pregnant women anxious.

Are they capable of transmitting the infection to the infants? Can they continue to breastfeed if they test positive? Can they go near the baby? Women who are about to deliver and those who have just delivered are troubled by such questions, as they look forward to taking care of their infants and young children.

Senior paediatricians in Hyderabad have advised mothers, irrespective of whether they have suspected symptoms or positive Covid-19 status, that they should initiate and continue breastfeeding. Doctors have also urged family members of pregnant women to encourage and counsel them about Covid-19 and pregnancy.

“There is no evidence that Covid-19 positive mothers can infect infants through breastfeeding. Simple measures like use of face masks and frequent hand washing, if done properly, will prevent the infection. We do a lot of counselling to pregnant women who come to us,” says Dr Himabindu Singh, Professor (Paediatrics), Niloufer Hospital. Pregnant women who turn up in large numbers at Niloufer Hospital and Modern Government Maternity Hospital (MGMH), Petlaburj, to avail health care services are counselled by the doctors that the benefits of breastfeeding substantially outweigh the potential risks for transmission. “Yes, we prepare mothers for breastfeeding even if they are Covid-19 positive. It is absolutely safe and there is no evidence so far of the transmission. Pregnant women should not be afraid or have any hesitation because nothing can replace breast feeding,” says Dr Naga Mani, Superintendent, MGMH, Petlaburj.

To provide further clarity on the issue, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recently updated its guidelines on pregnant women and infants. The WHO made it clear that mother and infant should be enabled to remain together and practise skin-to-skin contact, including Kangaroo mother care, especially immediately after birth and when they first start breastfeeding, whether they or their infants have suspected or confirmed Covid-19.

Paediatricians have also clarified that even during the time of the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak; mother’s milk can’t be substituted with feeding bottles or pacifiers. “There is no evidence that mothers can infect infants. They should not panic but use common sense safety measures, which will be enough,” Dr Himabindu added.

breastfeed babies

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