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Breastfeeding and COVID-19: answers given by gynecologist-endocrinologist Nataliia Silina

Analysis of sick pregnant and lactating women’s medical records has shown that the coronavirus is not transmitted into breast milk and has not been found in the amniotic fluid.

1. Can I breastfeed if I have symptoms of a viral infection (cough, runny nose, fever)?

• Continue breastfeeding

• Wash your hands with liquid soap for 20 seconds before touching your baby

• Wear a mask.


2. How to handle pacifiers and bottles to avoid the baby getting infected?

The rules for handling children's objects should be followed not only during the coronavirus epidemic.

Bottles and pacifiers can be boiled if you do not have a home sterilizer.


3. How to make sure that your baby is safe? How many times should the baby’s hands be treated with antiseptic?

⁃ Wash your baby's hands with liquid for newborns;

⁃ Babies’ hands should not be treated with antiseptics containing alcohol; 

⁃ Wash the toys with a warm soap solution and rinse them thoroughly. During the epidemic period, use only those toys that you can treat in a quality manner (by boiling or rinsing them with clean water after treatment with liquid soap);

⁃ Avoid being anxious to ensure the lactation!


4. Can the baby's nose be lubricated with oxolinic ointment to prevent viral infection (including COVID-19)?

It is important to know that the nasal mucosa is a series of cells whose task is to physically resist the penetration of bacteria, viruses and allergens. It is also a kind of factory for the production of cytokines, substances regulating the duration and intensity of the immune response to viruses, bacteria and allergens that get into the nose.

Therefore, the nose should be clean and rinsed. The nose of the baby and newborn cannot be lubricated with the baby oil (or olive oil). Just put from 1 to 2 drops of normal saline into each nostril if there are crusts in there or if the air in the room is dry.


5. I am going to have a baby now in a maternity hospital and I have signs of COVID-19; will my baby be isolated from me immediately after birth?

It all varies from case to case and depends on the baby’s condition during his/her birth, whether the birth was difficult and the newborn's condition is stable.


6. I'm healthy. Will I get COVID-19 when I come to the maternity hospital for childbirth?

1 to 2 maternity hospitals in each city have been re-equipped to admit women in labor with signs of COVID-19.


7. Why did they cancel the delivery with the partner?

To reduce the risk of infecting other women and newborns in the maternity hospital, it was decided worldwide, not only in Ukraine, to abolish a husband’s/mother’s/doula’s attendance at birth.

I understand that it is difficult to accept that, after your partner and you have been preparing for 9 months for the long-awaited baby, you will now have to go through this without him. But such measures are justified because they reduce the risk of an epidemic in the maternity hospital.


8. If I have agreed with the doctor for individual support during childbirth, is it possible that the doctor will not come?

- Yes, of course, it is possible for several reasons. The first one is the lack of resources. All doctors are doing their best to prepare for the rapid spread of the coronavirus epidemic. It may happen that the doctor has already worked more than a few days and will be unable, both physically and emotionally, to support you during childbirth.

- The second reason: if you have signs of COVID-19, you will be hospitalized in a maternity hospital, which is repurposed for the admission of pregnant women and women in labor infected with COVID-19.

- Find out which health care institution in your city admits pregnant women and women in labor who are suspected of being infected with COVID-19 or who already have a confirmed diagnosis.

- Try to decide how you will get to the hospital at the beginning of or during labor. You must be prepared for the situation when ambulances will be overloaded with calls from other patients.