We hope that feeding is going well, but realise that you may concerned about the risk of you baby getting Coronavirus (COVID-19) while you are feeding and getting to know each other.
Current evidence suggests that Coronavirus is spread by respiratory droplets (coughing and sneezing), direct contact and contaminated surfaces/equipment. It is important that you protect your baby by:
- washing your hands regularly
- avoid sneezing and coughing near your baby
- ensuring surfaces and equipment are clean
- having skin to skin contact
- limit the number of people who hold your baby
There is no evidence at the moment to suggest that Coronavirus can be transmitted from mother to baby through breastmilk.
Breastfeeding protects babies from developing infections as breastmilk contains special factors that destroy bacteria and viruses as well as boosting the baby’s immune system.
It is important that you continue breastfeeding/giving breastmilk even if you become unwell.
If any member of the family becomes ill, the baby will have already have been exposed to the illness. Interrupting/stopping breastfeeding may actually increase the baby’s risk of becoming ill.
Follow these links for more information
Breastfeeding Network: https://www.breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk/coronavirus/
La Leche League International: https://www.llli.org/coronavirus/ (Available in different languages)
If you are formula/bottle feeding your baby, continue to follow current guidance on washing/ sterilizing equipment and making up feeds.
Continue to feed your baby responsively, pacing the feeds and limiting the number of people who feed your baby.
First Steps Nutrition has useful information on safe formula/bottle feeding: https://www.firststepsnutrition.org/parents-carers
What to do if you become ill
Public Health England (PHE) has issued the following guidance to follow if you become ill:
- washing your hands before touching the baby, breast pump or bottles
- avoiding coughing or sneezing on the baby while feeding
- cleaning any breast pump as recommended by the manufacturer after each use
- considering asking someone who is well to feed your expressed breastmilk to the baby
- If you are feeding with formula or expressed milk, sterilise the equipment carefully before each use. You should not share bottles or a breast pump with someone else.
The Lullaby Trust also has useful information for keeping your baby safe.
Information for new Parents
The movement of our wards within maternity has resulted in a number of changes to the provision of infant feeding preparation. As a result those parents wishing to formula feed their baby must now provide their own readymade formula milk (not powdered). Our staff will assist you with sterilising your bottles.
We still have a freezer available for those women wishing to store their harvested or frozen breast milk.
Darent Valley Hospital has achieved UNICEF Baby Friendly Award - the joint efforts of the maternity, neonatal and paediatric teams have been rewarded with the UNICEF Stage 3 Accreditation.
Skin to skin contact with your baby
As soon as your baby has been born, s/he will be carefully dried and placed on your chest skin to skin with you and covered with a blanket. This is the best start that you can give to your baby – cuddling skin to skin after the birth for as long as you can. It eases your baby into the world, keeping him/her warm, well and secure.
Skin to skin contact has a positive effect upon stabilising your baby’s heart rate, breathing and blood sugar. Most importantly, it enables baby to find its way to the breast and take the first feed of colostrum which is rich with goodness. Even if you don’t intend to breast feed, having this precious colostrum for the first few feeds gives your baby the benefit of the protection and immunity it provides.
Whilst in hospital
Midwives offer breastfeeding support. In addition we also have a team of excellent breastfeeding specialists who can offer additional support if you need it.