COVID-19 and Pregnancy, Breastfeeding, & Young Children

May 29, 2020

 

You probably feel overwhelmed with the massive amounts of information on COVID-19. We get it, we feel the same way, too. It’s tempting to turn off all the electronics and pretend none of this is happening— but it is, friend.

 

So let us preface this article with this: we want this information to help you, not scare you. While some of the information may be redundant, we made sure to include things that you may not know. We believe if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have young children, that this information will help you feel more self-assured. We vetted this article both by our medical team and the Center of Disease Control (CDC). But, as we always recommend with any medical advice, check our sources, speak to your doctor, and discover the truth for yourself.

 

Pregnancy and COVID-19

 

“There is currently no data showing that COVID-19 affects pregnant women differently than others”— straight from the CDC’s website. However if you are pregnant, you need to be aware that you are at a greater risk of contracting any respiratory virus, not just COVID-19, versus your friends and family who are not pregnant. A respiratory virus can cause “adverse outcomes for the mother or child.” So, regardless if we were in a pandemic or not, it’s always best to practice health mindfulness: drink plenty of water, eat well, and adhere to your doctor’s advice.

 

At the bottom of this article is a list of tips, best practices and a segment on coping with stress— take a little gander.

 

Breastfeeding and COVID-19

 

Recent research affirms the wonderful benefits breast milk brings to infants. Cheers to you sweet mamma! The CDC and our medical team agree that breast milk helps protect infants against illness and “is the best source of nutrition for most infants” (CDC). 

 

But the decision to breastfeed is yours, your family’s, and your doctor’s choice, and choice alone. We know that you are a caring mom, no matter what.

 

If you are breastfeeding, here’s some information we pulled from this CDC article:

  • “We do not know for sure if mothers with COVID-19 can spread the virus to babies in their breast milk, but the limited data available suggest this is not likely.

  • If you have COVID-19 and choose to breastfeed:

    • Wear a cloth face covering while breastfeeding and wash your hands before each feeding.

  • If you have COVID-19 and choose to express breast milk:

    • Use a dedicated breast pump.

    • Wear a cloth face covering during expression and wash your hands before touching any pump or bottle parts and before expressing breast milk.

    • Follow recommendations for proper pump cleaning after each use, cleaning all parts that come into contact with breast milk.

    • If possible, expressed breast milk should be fed to the infant by a healthy caregiver who does not have COVID-19, is not at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19, and is living in the same home.”

At the bottom of this article is a list of tips, best practices and a segment on coping with stress— take a little gander.

 

Young Children and COVID-19

 

First, we want to encourage you before diving in: it takes a community to raise a child. Now, we’re not saying invite your entire community into your home to help change your little one’s diaper #socialdistancing. What we are saying is that technology is the most beautiful tool to utilize right now. 

You need community, sweet mamma. We encourage you to pick-up the phone and talk to someone who gives your heart a safe space. You should social distance, but not isolate. Are you hearing us?

 

If you feel like you have no one to safely talk to, give us a call. We would be happy to lend a listening ear.

Alright, here are some things to keep in mind about COVID-19 and children.

 

The CDC is still working on compiling comprehensive information on COVID-19 and children. So far, they report that most sickness is found among adults— but there have still been cases of children and infants. 

Here are common symptoms in children: “children with COVID-19 generally have mild, cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Vomiting and diarrhea have also been reported in some children” (CDC).

 

If your children have underlying medical conditions like chronic lung disease, moderate to severe asthma, serious heart conditions, or weak immune systems, they may be at higher risk (CDC). Always, always, call your children’s healthcare provider if you have any concerns or if they have any COVID-19 symptoms. 

Practice frequent hand washing with them. Teach them the importance of washing their hands with a fun song or a game. It will be an opportunity to create a great memory with them.

 

And if an emergency arises, do not wait, call 911 or go to your local emergency department. They will have infection prevention procedures in place to protect your family and your community. Always abide by their instruction and direction.

 

Coping with Stress

 

You are amazing. We know that this is a difficult time. It’s important to remember that everyone responds differently to stress.

 

Your fear and anxiety are valid. But they do not have to control you. You are in control of your thoughts and emotions. If we are trying to make the best of our circumstances right now, maybe for you this is a time to build better coping mechanisms against stress. Because stress is inevitable.

 

Let us put context to this concept though— always talk to a licensed doctor or counselor if your anxiety, anger or depression feels too overwhelming. Depression during pregnancy and post-partum are common among women and can be treated (CDC). Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Never put off mental health treatment. 

 

It’s completely normal to feel emotionally impacted from COVID-19. We are going to challenge you, friend, to make your mental health a priority. We may not have much control over outer circumstances, but we do have control over our mental health.

 

Here are a few ways to start:

  • Turn off the news. Power down the New York Times feed. Stop scrolling through social media. Give your eyes and your mind a break. Constantly seeing and reading about the negative, affects our thinking, well you guessed it, negatively. Instead write down ten things you are grateful for today. 

  • Take care of your body. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Exercise for at least 30 minutes. Get at least 8 hours of sleep. In turn, be mindful of the effects of what too much sleep has on your mental health. Avoid alcohol and drugs.

  • Make time to still your mind: journal, pray, meditate or go for a walk.

  • Connect with others. Tell someone you love how much they mean to you! Look up a funny joke and try it out on someone. Again, talk with people who make your heart and mind feel safe.

When we intentionally make efforts to control our fear and anxiety, it automatically elevates the mood of ourselves and those around us.

 

Practical Tips and Best Practices from the Center of Disease Control

 

Practice social distancing:

  • Avoid people who are sick or who have been exposed to the virus.

  • Stay at home or stay at least 6 feet away from people who do not live in your home.

Wash your hands often:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or help your children wash their hands), especially:

    • After touching other people, including children;

    • After touching surfaces outside your home or items from outside that you have brought into your home;

    • After going to the bathroom or changing diapers;

    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing;

    • After handling dirty laundry;

    • Before eating or preparing food; and

    • Before breastfeeding or expressing milk.

  • Always wash your hands when they are visibly dirty.

  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Cover your coughs and sneezes:

  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, throw the tissue in the trash, and then wash your hands. Or, cough into your elbow and clean your hands.

Clean, disinfect, and launder safely:

  • Clean and then disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (e.g., phones, personal electronic devices, remote controls, tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).

    • Be sure to follow instructions for safely and effectively using disinfectants, including directions for rinsing off the chemicals after a period of time. In addition, be sure to keep products out of reach of children.

  • Launder items, including washable plush toys, by following the label or instructions. Launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely, if possible. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items, but wash your hands after handling the dirty laundry.

 

 

Want to read more? Here is the link to this article from the Center of Disease Control. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html

 

Written by

Roxanne Bright, RN, Nurse Manager

Amber George, Community and Marketing Coordinator

 

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