Coronavirus Resources for Breastfeeding Families
Lactation Support During the Coronavirus Pandemic
During the Covid-19 pandemic we never stopped offering virtual, office and in-home lactation consults. Breastfeeding is essential to the health and well being of mothers and babies, and it's never more important than during times of crisis or health emergencies. Breastfeeding provides food security. It is always readily available without needing a trip to the store or worrying about a shortage of formula. Breastfeeding is also psychologically protective for both mother and baby, as it provides hormones that promote relaxation and bonding during stressful times.
If mother contracts COVID-19, breastfeeding provides the infant valuable antibodies and protection. Past studies have found that formula-fed infants have triple the risk of being hospitalized if they have a respiratory illness. Every major organization has recommended that mothers continue to breastfeed even if they contract COVID-19 (see references at bottom).
Although the COVID-19 vaccines were not tested on breastfeeding mothers, it is not expected that the vaccine would cause any adverse effects to infant. If you would otherwise get the the COVID-19 vaccine, you don't need to let your lactational status stop you. In fact, breastfeeding is a motivating factor for many women to get the vaccine since baby will receive valuable antibodies via your breastmilk to help protect them from COVID-19.
Here are some steps we are taking to ensure the health of all the families we support:
- Keeping Families Home
By offering home visits and virtual consults, families are not coming in contact with the germs that would be found in a hospital outpatient or pediatric clinic. We want to keep you safely nesting at home as much as possible.
2. Extra Sanitization Measures
During the pandemic, we will be taking extra steps to ensure the sanitization of everything we bring into your home. As always, we will sanitize or wash our hands before working with you and wear gloves during infant exams. If any of our lactation consultants are symptomatic, they will contact you ahead of time and help you reschedule with another lactation consultant.
3. Virtual Consults for Families with Illness
If mother or infant test positive for COVID-19 or have a fever of 100.4 or higher, we ask that you reach out to us as soon as possible so we can change your appointment type from a home visit to a virtual consult. Breastfeeding support is essential to the well being of a family even during a health crisis, and we would love to provide you video based support. We can assist with topics such as how to maintain milk supply during sickness, safe medications for breastfeeding mothers, strategies for reducing mother-baby transmission, tips for enhancing your rest, and guidance to ensure baby is thriving nutritionally.
Tips for Breastfeeding During Illness
- Continue breastfeeding your baby
As mentioned earlier in this article, breastmilk provides incredible protection for babies that helps to keep them from experiencing severe symptoms during illness and may help to prevent hospitalizations. Additionally, frequent breastfeeding or pumping is essential to maintaining your milk production. If you are able to spend extra time in bed with baby skin to skin this will help you to get your rest while also encouraging frequent, on-demand breastfeeding. Some organizations recommend wearing a mask around baby if caregivers are ill to reduce the viral load baby is exposed to. Regardless of whether you opt to wear a mask around baby, know that cases of serious illness among infants has been very rare and most babies develop only mild symptoms or are asymptomatic.
2. Monitor Milk Production
Some of our clients have reported their milk supply almost vanished during significant covid-19 illness, but rebounded in about two weeks with proper strategies to stimulate milk production. Pay attention to signs your baby may need additional breastmilk such as a decrease in wet diapers, baby not seeming satisfied after breastfeeding, and less audible swallows during feeds. If you notice these signs, please contact a lactation consultant right away to discuss strategies for supplementing. If you are a pumping mother, continue the same pump routine even if your milk production seems to stop. It will eventually rebound if you don't decrease pump frequency. Most women need at least 8 breastfeeds/pump sessions per 24 hours.
3. Nourish Yourself
During any illness, mothers can become dehydrated and depleted nutritionally. This can impact not only how you feel but also milk production. Staying hydrated with electrolyte enhanced beverages can make a big difference. Try to drink 16-24 oz per day of an electrolyte enhanced beverage (such as Body Armour or LiquidIV) and additional adequate water intake. Eat foods high in complex carbohydrates (such as whole grains) as well as fruits and vegetables. We love Costco's Aussie Bites and Super Smoothie mixes for fast, easy and nourishing foods for mama.
4. Check Medications for Breastfeeding Compatibility
Most medications are safe to take while breastfeeding, but its always a good idea to ask a lactation consultant to look up meds for you or you can call the Infant Risk Hotline (1-806-352-2519). Ibuprofen and tylenol are compatible with breastfeeding but be cautious of oral antihistamines or decongestants, which can reduce milk supply. Nasal sprays are generally a safer option or guaifenesin which works by thinning mucous instead of drying it up.