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Covid-19 and breastfeeding

Covid-19 and breastfeeding: Affinity Health Talks About What Moms Need To Know

Are you breastfeeding and have symptoms of (or confirmed) COVID-19? Affinity Health recommends you take specific steps to avoid spreading the virus to your baby.

Experts agree: Breast milk is the best nutrition source for most infants, and it provides protection against many illnesses, including several viruses. However, the coronavirus pandemic has led to many new moms with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 feeling extra anxious over whether it’s safe to continue breastfeeding their baby, expressing milk, or feeding on a bottle.

“Because the coronavirus is still fairly new, guidance from experts continues to change. But, so far, it’s safe to breastfeed your baby. Research evidence has shown that the virus is not found in breastmilk, nor is it transmitted through breastmilk from a mother who is confirmed or suspected to have Covid-19 onto her baby,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“However, we know that Covid-19 is spread through direct, indirect, or close contact with infected people through infected secretions such as saliva and respiratory droplets. We also know that you can pass the virus on before you get symptoms, and even if you never have symptoms but are carrying it. That means that if mom has the virus, she can transmit it to her baby through close contact, and vice versa.”

Mothers who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should continue breastfeeding but are encouraged to practising good hygiene like:

  • Wearing masks
  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser
  •  Routinely cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and baby items such as bottles, breast pumps, pacifiers
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, your baby should also  remain isolated with you at home for 14 days

Some breastfeeding moms with Covid-19 worry about what will happen if they become sick enough to require hospitalisation. In these cases, your baby should be allowed to continue breastfeeding if at all possible. Only in extreme circumstances, if an interruption of breastfeeding is deemed absolutely medically necessary, hand expressing or pumping breast milk is encouraged. 

Raising a baby in these uncertain times can be difficult for even the bravest new mom, and it’s understandable to be feeling more stressed and apprehensive than joyful. While it’s natural to be confused about how the coronavirus might impact breastfeeding, know that there are many resources available for breastfeeding moms with any breastfeeding concerns. 

“It’s important for all new moms – even those self-isolating – to know that they are not alone. If you feel overwhelmed, reach out to a paediatrician, obstetric healthcare provider, or lactation consultant who will help you. There are also many virtual platforms where breastfeeding moms can go for added support,” concludes Hewlett.


About Affinity Health

Affinity Health aims to provide premier quality, affordable medical insurance to South Africans. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service when they are faced with injury or illness. We work to deliver innovative solutions that are simple, cost-effective, and proven, so our cover is structured to ensure that you get exactly what you need. For more information, follow us on Facebook, and Instagram.  

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