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Saturday, October 16, 2021

World safe breastfeeding awareness August 2021. Safe pregnancy and Covid-19

Set every August for the first seven days of the month, World Breastfeeding Week aims to highlight the huge benefits that breastfeeding can bring to both the health and welfare of babies, as well as a wider push for maternal health, focusing on good nutrition, poverty reduction and food security.

The event is organized every year by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA), a global network that aims to protect, promote and support breastfeeding around the world. Along the way, it works with the World Health Organization and UNICEF to get its aid to the right people in the right communities.

World Breastfeeding Week begins each year on the 1st August and runs right through until the 7th.

Breastfeeding weeks aim to raise awareness of the health and wellbeing outcomes of breastfeeding and the importance of supporting mothers to breastfeed for as long as they wish.

Are pregnant women at higher risk from COVID-19?

Research is currently underway to understand the impacts of COVID-19 infection on pregnant women. Data are limited, but at present, there is no evidence that they are at higher risk of severe illness than the general population.

However, due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, we know that pregnant women can be badly affected by some respiratory infections.

It is therefore important that they take precautions to protect themselves against COVID-19, and report possible symptoms (including fever, cough or difficulty breathing) to their healthcare provider.

Is breastfeeding recommended during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Breastfeeding is particularly effective against infectious diseases because it strengthens the immune system by directly transferring antibodies from the mother. As with all confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases, mothers with any symptoms who are breastfeeding or practicing skin-to-skin contact should take precautions.

Is it safe to breastfeed if having coronavirus?

Coronavirus has not been found in breast milk. But if you have COVID-19, you could spread the virus to your infant through tiny droplets that spread when you talk, cough, or sneeze.

Talk to your doctor to help decide whether you should continue to breastfeed. Your breast milk is the best nutrition for your baby and can protect against many illnesses. While you are sick, you (or someone else) can give your baby expressed breast milk.

If you choose to breastfeed or give expressed milk in a bottle, to help prevent spreading the virus to your baby:

o          Wash your hands before and after touching your baby.

o          Wear a mask while nursing.

o          Wash your hands before touching your breast pump or bottle parts. Clean all parts after each use.

o          Let someone else in your household who is not sick give your baby your expressed breast milk.

Try to limit close face-to-face contact with your baby and cough or sneeze into a tissue (and then throw it away). When you aren’t feeding your baby, you should try to stay at least 6 feet away from your baby as much as possible.

Call your health care provider if you feel unwell with COVID-19 symptoms such as:

o          a fever, coughing, trouble breathing, cold symptoms such as a sore throat, congestion, or runny nose, chills, muscle pain headache, a loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea tiredness

Interim guidance on breastfeeding and breast milk feeds in the context of COVID-19

Key points:

o          People without suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and who have not been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or who have received the COVID-19 vaccine do not need to take special precautions when feeding at the breast or expressing milk.

o          A breastfeeding person who is not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 should take precautions to protect themselves and the breastfed child when either member of the dyad has suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

This information is intended for healthcare professionals and lactation specialists who care for breastfeeding people as well as infants and children (hereafter referred to as child or children) who receive breast milk feeds during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Current evidence suggests that breast milk is not a likely source of transmission of SARS-C0V-2.

Considerations for breastfeeding

Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for most infants, and it provides protection against many illnesses. There are rare exceptions when breastfeeding or feeding expressed breast milk is not recommended.

People without suspected or confirmed COVID-19 and who have not been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, or who have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 do not need to take special precautions when feeding at the breast or expressing milk. All breastfeeding people regardless of COVID-19 status who are using breast pumps should be educated about CDC information on how to properly clean and sanitize their breast pump.

How to protect the breastfed child

The following information can be used to counsel breastfeeding persons on precautions to take while feeding at the breast, expressing milk, or feeding from a bottle when the breastfeeding person

o          has suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or

o          has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 and is not fully vaccinated.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, consider providing additional information on isolation and quarantine when counseling people with specific living situations, such as those living in close quarters or living in shared housing.

Isolation and quarantine

o          The breastfeeding person should follow the information on quarantine or isolation.

o          A child being breastfed by someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be considered as a close contact of a person with COVID-19 and should be quarantined for the duration of the lactating parent’s recommended period of isolation and during their own quarantine thereafter.

Precautions while feeding at the breast, expressing milk, or feeding from a bottle

Breastfeeding people should follow these precautions during their recommended period of isolation:

o          Wash their hands using soap and water before touching their child or expressing breast milk either by hand expression or with a breast pump. If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

o          Wear a mask when they are less than 6 feet from the child (including when feeding at the breast or feeding from a bottle) and when expressing breast milk

o          Clean and sanitize breast pumps and all infant feeding items.   

o          Some people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 may desire to breastfeed their child, but they may be unable to or choose not to during their COVID-19 illness. One reason may be that they are unable to access appropriate support. Healthcare professionals may refer patients to professional lactation support as needed. Reestablishment of lactation (or relaxation) may be possible for some.

How to protect the breastfeeding person

The following information can be used to counsel breastfeeding dyads on precautions to take while feeding at the breast, expressing milk, or feeding from a bottle when the breastfed child

o          has suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or

o          has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 and the breastfeeding person is not fully vaccinated.

Precautions while feeding at the breast, expressing milk, or feeding from a bottle

o          Because of the danger of suffocation, masks should NOT be put on children younger than 2 years.

o          To minimize possible exposure, breastfeeding people may choose to take precautions as recommended above for those with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 while feeding at the breast, expressing milk, or feeding from a bottle. This includes wearing a mask during any close contact (i.e., less than 6 feet) with the child and cleaning their hands frequently (i.e., before and after touching their child).

o          Recently pregnant people (for at least 42 days following end of pregnancy) are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness. Healthcare professionals may counsel the breastfeeding person on risks and benefits of continuing to feed at the breast during the child’s COVID-19 illness.

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