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If you’re a new mom, there probably are a zillion things you’re worried about and a gazillion questions when it comes to taking care of your baby. Surely all the solicited and unsolicited pieces of advice from friends and family, the impulsive panic calls to the gynaecologist, and all the excessive Googling would’ve helped answer some of your questions.
However, in the current scenario, when the world is facing a terrible pandemic, there might arise one pertinent question that might not have been a part of your baby conversations before: Should you be breastfeeding your baby if you’ve got a fever.
We got in touch with an expert to answer that one for you.
In case of a regular flu…
The covid-19 is definitely spreading like forest fire. So, every time someone has a slight fever or cough or simply even sneezes, it is assumed that the person is infected. The paranoia is valid, but not valid enough to cloud your better sense of judgement and make you forget that this is also the season of seasonal flu and regular viral fever.
So, in case you’re suffering from a seasonal flu, Dr Preeti Bhadauria, senior consultant, obstetrics and gynaecology, Nayati Medicity, Mathura, recommends that you continue to breastfeed the baby while taking adequate precautions.
“Breast milk contains antibodies and other immunological factors that can help protect the infant from the flu. It remains the best source of nutrition for the infant, even while the mother is ill. Hence, a mother suffering from a flu can continue breastfeeding her infant while taking all possible precautions to avoid spreading the infection to her infant,” she says.
But, what if it’s covid?
As explained earlier, breast milk contains antibodies and anti-infective factors which can help protect the baby from several diseases and infections.
Additionally, Bhadauria explains that infection spreads from one person to another through respiratory droplets when people cough, sneeze or talk. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or an object that has the flu virus on it and then touches his/her own mouth or nose.
Not to mention, according to the World Health Organization, women with covid-19 can breastfeed if they wish to, but they should take proper precautions.
But, Dr Bhadauria is quick to mention: “To date, the novel coronavirus has not been detected in breast milk. However, as the disease is new, this evidence is based on limited studies.”
Therefore, it is better to not take a risk of letting the baby too close to you for breastfeeding or feed him/her with the milk you’ve managed to pump out despite your illness. Because with covid, you never really know, right? Even if you have suspected covid, do talk to your gynaecologist about breastfeeding your baby.
If you’ve decided to go for it, do take these precautions
“A mother with flu should take appropriate precautions to avoid passing the flu to her infant as infants are at a high risk of serious flu-related complications,” says Dr Bhadauria and recommends the following precautions:
What if you’re too unwell to breastfeed?
According to Dr Bhadauria, if you’re too unwell to breastfeed the baby, here’s what you can do: