27 July 2021

Breastfeeding safely during the COVID-19 pandemic

If you're a mother or expecting, it is only natural to have questions about what is safest for your baby during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence is overwhelmingly in support of breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin contact and early, exclusive breastfeeding helps your baby to thrive, and there is no reason to discontinue in the wake of this…, Should I breastfeed during the pandemic?, Absolutely. Breastmilk provides antibodies that give babies everywhere a healthy boost and protect them against many infections. Antibodies and bio-active factors in breastmilk may fight against COVID-19 infection, if a baby is exposed. Engage in skin-to-skin contact with your newborn. Placing your newborn close to you enables the early initiation…, Should I breastfeed if I have or suspect I have COVID-19?, Yes, continue breastfeeding with appropriate precautions. These include wearing a medical mask if available, washing your hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub before and after touching your baby, and routinely cleaning and disinfecting surfaces you have touched. Your chest only needs to be washed if you have just coughed on…, Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I'm breastfeeding or providing expressed milk?, Yes, the COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for healthy individuals who are lactating or expressing milk.  , Is it safe to continue breastfeeding after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine?, Yes, you should continue breastfeeding after vaccination to protect your baby. None of the WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines currently being used contain the live virus, so there is no risk of passing the virus to your baby through breastmilk.  , Can you pass COVID-19 to your baby by breastfeeding?, To date, the transmission of active COVID-19 (virus that can cause infection) through breastmilk and breastfeeding has not been detected, though researchers are continuing to test breastmilk. >>  Watch our Mini Parenting Master Class on breastfeeding  , What should I do if I’m too unwell to breastfeed?, If you are feeling too sick to nurse, try to find other ways to safely provide your child with breastmilk. Try expressing milk and giving to your child via a clean cup or spoon. You could also consider donor human milk if available in your area. Speak to your breastfeeding counsellor or healthcare professional about the options available to you.…, Should I breastfeed if my child is sick?, Continue to breastfeed your child if she becomes ill. Whether your little one contracts COVID-19 or another illness, it is important to continue nourishing her with breastmilk. Breastfeeding boosts your baby’s immune system, and your antibodies are passed to her through breastmilk, helping her to fight infections.  , What precautions should I take when breastfeeding?, Make sure to follow handwashing guidelines. Your hands should be washed with soap and water before and after touching your baby. You may also use an alcohol-based hand rub. It is also important to clean and disinfect any surfaces that you have touched. Wash breastmilk pumps, milk storage containers and feeding utensils after every use as usual.…, What coronavirus means for breastfeeding, For more information on breastfeeding during COVID-19 see guidance by the World Health Organization . Article by Mandy Rich, Digital Content Writer, UNICEF This article was originally published on 28 May 2020. It was last updated on 08 April 2021.  
27 April 2021

Navigating pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Pregnancy is a special time full of excitement and anticipation. But for many expectant mothers, the COVID-19 pandemic has clouded this time with fear, anxiety and uncertainty.  To help women navigate this time, we spoke to experts about pregnancy and COVID-19 vaccines and tips on how to have a safe pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic .  , Pregnancy and COVID-19 vaccines, The development of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is a huge step forward in our global effort to end the pandemic and to get back to doing more of the things we enjoy with the people we love. Here are the answers to come commonly asked questions about pregnancy and COVID-19 vaccines.  , Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m pregnant?, Although the overall risk of severe illness from COVID-19 remains low, pregnancy puts you at higher risk of severe illness compared to people who are not pregnant. Research is still ongoing to understand the safety and effects of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnant women, but there is no known reason that would outweigh the benefits of vaccination…, Can COVID-19 vaccines affect fertility?, No, you may have seen false claims on social media, but there is no evidence that any vaccine, including COVID-19 vaccines, can affect fertility in women or men. If you are currently trying to become pregnant, you do not need to avoid pregnancy after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.  , Should I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m breastfeeding?, Researchers are currently studying COVID-19 vaccination in breastfeeding women, but there is still limited information at this time. WHO advises that vaccinations are offered if a lactating woman is part of a priority group for vaccinations, for example if you are a health worker. Breastfeeding can continue after vaccination and remains one of the…, Having a safe pregnancy during the COVID-19 pandemic, To learn more about how women can protect themselves and their little one, we spoke with Franka Cadée, President of the International Confederation of Midwives. COVID-19 is a new virus and research into it is ongoing. We will update this article as new information becomes available.  , Is it safe to continue prenatal check-ups?, Many expectant mothers are fearful of going to appointments while they are taking precautions, such as staying home and practicing physical distancing when outside. “You do see a lot of adaptation happening at the moment in the world where midwives are doing clinics or certain appointments by phone, so that the actual looking at the baby and the…, If I have COVID-19 will I pass it to my baby?, We still do not know if the virus can be transmitted from a mother to her baby during pregnancy. “The COVID-19 virus has not been found in vaginal fluid, in cord blood or breastmilk,” says Cadée, although information is still emerging. To date, COVID-19 has also not been detected in amniotic fluid or the placenta. The best thing you can do is to…, I was planning on giving birth in a hospital or healthcare clinic. Is this still a good option?, “Women should ask their midwife [or health care professional] what they feel is the safest place for them and how precautions are being taken from situation to situation,” recommends Cadée. “It depends on the woman, on her situation and on the healthcare system.”  “You would hope that most healthcare facilities have different facilities where…, Can my partner or family member be nearby when I give birth?, While policies vary by country, Cadée believes women should have someone nearby to support them, as long as the proper precautions are taken, such as wearing a mask while in the delivery room and washing their hands. “We are finding that in certain countries people are not being allowed to be with women, and that is worrying me. I can understand…, I’m feeling incredibly anxious about giving birth. What should I do to cope?, Having a plan in place for your birth can help ease feelings of anxiety by giving you more of a sense of control, but recognizing that the current situation means there may be less predictability depending where you live. “This should include who to phone when the labour begins, who will provide support during labour and where. Establish what…, What questions should I be asking my healthcare professional?, Cadée underlines the importance of establishing a trusting relationship with your healthcare provider. “All of those questions that have to do with you and your health, I would ask them freely. If you have an open relationship with your healthcare provider – with your midwife, with your obstetrician – they will discuss these things with you and…, What should women pack to go into hospital during the pandemic?, “I don’t think women need to take anything extra, but they should take precautions well into account,” advises Cadée. She expects some hospitals may ask women to go home more quickly than normal if they’re healthy. “Again, that will be different from area to area, from woman to woman, from hospital to hospital,” she says, recommending expecting…, Once I have given birth, what can I do to protect my newborn from the COVID-19 virus?, The best thing you can do is to keep it simple: stick to just your family and don’t ask for visitors right now.  Although it’s a difficult time, Cadée recommends trying to see the positive side of having this time to bond as a family. “Sometimes it can be very busy for young mothers and fathers to have so many visitors. Enjoy the quietness of your…, I am an expecting mother. What should I be doing to keep myself safe during the COVID-19 virus outbreak?, As far as the research shows, pregnant women are not at a higher risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus than any other group of people. That being said, due to changes in their bodies and immune systems, pregnant women in the last months of pregnancy can by badly affected by some respiratory infections, and so it’s important to take precautions. “…, Can I safely breastfeed my baby?, “As far as we know, it is perfectly safe to continue breastfeeding. It's the best thing a mother can do for her baby," says Cadée. Transmission of active COVID-19 (virus that can cause infection) through breast milk and breastfeeding has not been detected to date. If you suspect you may have the COVID-19 virus, it is important to seek medical care…, What should I do if I live in a crowded space?, Many women around the world live in close proximity to lots of other people, making physical distancing much more challenging. In such places, “I would really ask the whole community to take care of their pregnant women,” urges Cadée. She recommends that people keep their distance from pregnant women as much as possible and that certain toilets be…