The Women and Child Development Ministry has instructed all field functionaries and healthcare providers to reassure mothers to initiate and continue to breastfeed their infants as per guidelines even if they have tested positive for COVID-19.
Noting that breastfeeding helps to protect a baby even if the mother is infected with coronavirus, the WCD ministry said the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare must be followed by those who are suspected or confirmed to have infected with the coronavirus.
Reassuring mothers, the WCD ministry said the coronavirus has not been found in amniotic fluid or breast milk which means that the virus is not being transmitted during pregnancy or through breast milk.
“Field functionaries/healthcare providers should reassure and support all mothers to initiate and continue to breastfeed their infants as per the guidelines of WHO and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare – even if they are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19,” the ministry tweeted.
“Wash your hands thoroughly with soap or sanitizer before and after contact with your child. In case of complementary feeding, feed the infant or young child with a cup and wash hands with soap and water before handling cups, bottles, teats etc and limit the number of caregivers feeding the infant,” it said in another tweet.
The WHO on Tuesday also said the risk of COVID-19 infection from breastfeeding is negligible and has never been documented, calling for greater support for the practice.
The comments came made during World Breastfeeding Week which is observed every year from August 1 to 7. It aims to promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life which yields health benefits, provides critical nutrients and protects from deadly diseases.
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