COVID-19 & Pregnancy, Planning for Pregnancy, Breast Feeding
Dr. Sindhu Ravishankar
Specialist Gynaecology / Obstetrics
Aster Discovery Gardens
Can mothers breastfeed their child if they have COVID-19 symptoms?
The mothers’ milk carries many nutrients that protect babies from a number of diseases.
However, you have to consult with your doctor who will decide one of the following based on your health condition:
- Pumping milk
- Postponing breastfeeding
If you have symptoms and you decided to breastfeed then you have to:
- Wash your hands well before breastfeeding
- Wear a face mask
- Wash or wipe your breast well before and after breastfeeding
If you have symptoms and you decide to pump breastmilk:
- You should have your own dedicated pump
- Wash your hands well before touching the pump
- Follow the correct cleaning direction of the pump after each use
You can store pumped milk in the fridge for up to three days and in the freezer for up to six months
Tips for pregnant women during the COVID-19 pandemic
- There is no evidence that pregnant women are at higher risk of having severe COVID-19 symptoms 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.
- To date, the virus has not been found in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk and so is believed to not infect the fetus or spread from breastfeeding
- Pregnant women should inform their workplace that they are pregnant and proceed to work from home
- They should avoid going out unless if it is necessary
- Avoid interacting with those showing symptoms of respiratory disease even if they are family members
- Pregnant women should remain in regular contact with their doctors to discuss their delivery plan
- They should follow a healthy diet, sleep well and have an active lifestyle while in home quarantine
- Pregnant women who are feeling anxious due to the current pandemic should talk virtually to friends and family about it. If that didn’t help, they should contact a psychologist
- If a pregnant woman thinks she has coronavirus because she is suffering from its symptoms, then she should immediately consult a specialized doctor.
Avoid family and friend gatherings after delivery until this pandemic passes
Does being infected with COVID-19 increase my risk of miscarriage or other complications?
So far there is minimal evidence of any increased risk of pregnancy loss and no evidence of foetal malformations recorded in pregnant women who are infected with COVID-19.
Based on data from other coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes that pregnant women who get COVID-19 may have a higher risk for some complications, such as preterm birth. However, this data is extremely limited, and the infection may not be the direct cause of preterm birth.