Dr. Suresh Gowda, Consultant Neonatologist & Paediatrician, Motherhood Hospital -Indiranagar, Bengaluru
There has been a lot of discussion about COVID-19 and what safety measures to take. However, with the second and third waves coming we need to be more careful. There is no benign case of COVID-19 until you have fully recovered.
The virus is mutating so fast that it is getting hard to keep up with the symptoms and after-effects of COVID. But scientists are doing their best and various ongoing studies keep us up to speed. In this situation mothers with newborns should be alert and very precautious.
Although it is not advisable, if a mother has contracted COVID and chooses to keep the child in the same room as her, she should follow safety measures like- constantly wearing a mask, washing her hands frequently, keeping the newborn at least 6 feet away from her.
If one chooses that a caregiver might be a safer option for the child’s health, that is also perfectly fine. Get a healthy caregiver for your child- who you feel might be at a lower risk of contracting COVID. The caregiver must always wash their hands before touching the child and if one is using a sanitizer it must be at least 6o% alcohol. The caregiver should not come close to the infected person as that will also put the caregiver in danger. They must always wear a mask around the child.
For how long should the safety measure be followed?
If the mother has symptoms of COVID the isolation period for her ends after 10 days from the symptoms first appeared. In addition to that, the patient should not have had any medications for the fever to subside and other symptoms of COVID should also be visibly reducing.
For an asymptomatic patient, the isolation periods end when it has been 10 days since the test came back positive. To be on the safer side one should get a test done which says that the person is COVID negative.
There is no evidence supporting the fact that breast milk is vertically spreading the virus to the child. Follow the normal guidelines- washing your hands and wearing a mask while breastfeeding. After COVID the mother might have difficulty in producing breastmilk. This might be because the virus has impacted the body, but soon enough the body will start producing milk. The mother can use a breast pump if it is convenient for her. The breast pump should not be shared and should be washed frequently. Gloves must also be used when the mother is touching the child. Skin-to-skin contact is recommended.
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Watch out for any fever, breathing difficulty, discoloration of hands and feet, or too many large loose stools. It important that the baby receives medical attention if they seem unwell or if the parents have any concerns about its health. Children under the age of 3 are not advised to wear masks as this poses a threat of suffocation and other hazards. Always put the baby on its back while it’s sleeping, and the cot/space should be clear.
To increase immunity the mother can take vitamins recommended by the doctor, have more healthy food, and refrain from exposing themselves or the child to the virus. Stay indoors as much as possible. If you feel you need to consult with a doctor, there have been teleconsultations provides by serval doctors and hospitals that will help you with your queries while you stay safe at home.