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Breastfeeding guidelines during Covid-19 pandemic

Baby Care By Audrey Masitsa
If you have coronavirus symptoms or have been diagnosed, wear a mask (Photo: Shutterstock)

Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mother and child. It provides them with an opportunity to bond particularly if there’s skin to skin contact.

Breast milk also has many nutritional benefits for the child. It strengthens the baby’s immune system making it easier for them to fight off infections.

However, with the current Covid-19 pandemic, it is still unclear as to whether the coronavirus can be transmitted from mother to baby during breastfeeding. Even so, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has come up with a set of guidelines should a mother who is suspected of or confirmed with Covid-19 want to breastfeed her newborn.

1. Pre-counselling

Should you, your baby or any other member of your family be suspected of or been confirmed with Covid-19, you should seek counselling on how to breastfeed safely.

Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your baby (Photo: Shutterstock)

2. When breastfeeding:

i. Ensure you wash your hands thoroughly before and after you come into contact with the baby

ii. Wear a face mask when you’re near your child

iii. Should you feel severely ill such that you can’t breastfeed, express the breast milk and store it well so that your baby can continue enjoying the nutritional benefits of breast milk

If you can't breastfeed, express milk (Photo: Shutterstock)

iv. Mothers who feel too ill to either breastfeed or express milk should seek alternative ways to feed your baby. You could get a wet nurse or practice relactation where you start breastfeeding after taking a break.

v. Ensure you clean and disinfect all surfaces that you come into contact with frequently including breast pump and bottles before you touch them.

Clean all surfaces that you come into contact with (Photo: Shutterstock)

Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed exclusively for six months as this is forms the basis for your child’s overall health.

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