Managing pregnancy, breastfeeding and motherhood during Covid-19

By Carrie Bruno

March 19, 2020

Carrie is the founder of The Mama Coach. She is a RN, IBCLC lactation consultant, sleep consultant and mama of two little guys. She leads the North American team of Mama Coaches and is committed to making motherhood easier.

Motherhood can feel hard.

Motherhood during a pandemic feels hard x 10,000,000.

Here at The Mama Coach, we have been answering so many DMs and emails from all of you.  The internet has become a very overwhelming place, full of misinformation and anxiety inducing posts.  As Registered Nurses, we are committed to providing you evidence based information, with a massive dose of empathy, because we are mamas too!

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and how it pertains to motherhood.

If I am pregnant and get Covid-19, can I give it to my baby?

With the evidence we have up until this point, we don’t think so through the placenta.  There hasn’t been a case of a mama giving it to her baby while still pregnant to date.  Transmission occurs through respiratory droplets once your baby is born. 

Am I at increased risk because I am pregnant?

Using the current data we have, it does not appear that pregnant women are at increased risk.  However, we know historically, pregnant women have been more susceptible to viruses that are in the same family as Covid-19 (like SARS and MERS).  Given the limited data, it is too early to determine if higher rates of adverse outcomes are expected in pregnant women infected with COVID-19.  As with SARS and MERS, pregnancy outcomes are likely to be strongly correlated with degree of maternal illness, meaning how sick you are will dictate if your baby needs to be delivered early.

Can I pass it to my baby when I am giving birth?

We don’t believe it is passed through vaginal secretions or can be transmitted through cesarean sections.  Covid-19 is passed through respiratory droplets.

 

Newborn baby and mother

If I feel symptomatic, should I still breastfeed?

100%!  Covid-19 is not believed to be transmitted through breast milk.  As we mentioned above, this virus can be passed through respiratory droplets.  This means if you cough or sneeze on your baby while nursing, or touch her with unclean hands, the virus could pass to your baby. 

How can I keep my baby safe?

  • Keep nursing your baby! 
  • WASH YOUR HANDS.  Breast or bottle, every time you touch your baby, ensure you have clean hands.
  • If you are coughing and sneezing, wear a mask while handling your baby.  If you are very ill, consider pumping and letting a healthy family member give your breast milk via bottle or syringe to your baby. 
  • Wash all surfaces prior to feeding your baby.
  • Wash your baby’s hands – they are constantly putting hands to mouth! 
  • Change your shirt before nursing your baby if you have symptoms of Covid-19 or tested positive for the virus.  Babies love to feel your shirt in their hands when they nurse which could be a source of transmission for the virus.
  • Social distance.  Stay home with your baby.  It is isolating, we know which is usually the opposite of what we tell new mamas.  There are lots of local online mama groups in existence or popping up – join one and be a part of the virtual community.

Motherhood can feel lonely at the best of times, and especially so during a global pandemic.  We know many mamas have had their prenatal classes cancelled and social groups put on hold.  We want to help.  Mama Coaches across North America are offering “live” online prenatal classes that share all the information on labour, birth, bringing baby home, postpartum recover, as well as doing all of these things during social isolation.  Check out our upcoming classes here for one in your area.

We are also offering a series of online moms groups and breastfeeding classes, live and online!  Check them out here. I am hosting a class tomorrow at 10 am MST; it’s live, will talk about feeding your baby during this pandemic, as well as address any issues or questions regarding your baby and feeding. Includes an ebook and a support email from me when you need it. Register here.

Lastly, know we are rooting for you!  As a mama, it is deep within you to care for your babies – you’ve got this.  It feels scary and overwhelming, but look around at the incredible group of women who are in the same boat, looking for community and wanting to support one another.  Sending so much love your way, mamas.  We are always here for you!

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