As National Breastfeeding Week 2020 comes to a close, it strikes me how different things are for babies and their families this year as opposed to any other year. The coronavirus pandemic has affected us all and it is more important than ever to look after our physical and mental health, especially when you are breastfeeding. Here are some tips on breastfeeding in these unprecedented times.
Breastmilk will help your baby or older child to grow and develop and the immune factors in your milk will strengthen their immune system which is more important now than ever.
Take Time To Unwind
With all that’s going on in the world at the moment, almost everyone is feeling more stressed than usual. As you feed your little one, hormones released by your body should help you to feel more relaxed and destressed. To make the most of this effect, try to practice mindful breastfeeding. When you settle down to breastfeed, try to do so in a calm, relaxing environment. Try dimming the lights and playing some soft, calming music. As you latch your baby, try to clear your mind of any worries and focus on taking deep breaths in and out. As your milk lets down, imagine your worries melting away with it. The more you do this, the more your body will expect relaxation as you feed and soon you will find the act of breastfeeding itself begins to relax you.
Find Your Tribe
With everyone limiting their social contacts and different levels of lockdown ongoing, chatting with other parents who understand what you are going through can feel like a pipe dream. But support will find a way and a lot of breastfeeding groups have gone online with virtual meetups and online chats, the collective wisdom and friendship of other parents is not out of reach. Whether you are looking for help and support or just a chat- or both!- see what’s going on in your area and join in!
It’s important to do all you can to avoid you or your baby contracting coronavirus, so keep washing your hands, keeping your distance and following public health guidance to keep yourself and your little one safe. At the time of writing there is no evidence that coronavirus is transmitted in breastmilk and the HSE advice is to continue breastfeeding should you or your baby become ill. If you are unwell it is advised that you wear a mask while feeding and wash your hands before feeding. Continuing to breastfeed if you or your baby are ill is important as your milk contains antibodies and other immune factors which help your baby fight infection. If you are too ill to feed your baby directly, you or a family member could offer your milk via cup or finger feeding. More in depth information on Covid-19 and breastfeeding is available here.
Ask For Help
Being a parent at any stage of the breastfeeding journey can be challenging at times, especially during a pandemic! Try not to feel alone. If your partner or a family member offers help, accept it. And if you would prefer if that help was cooking you a meal so you can focus on feeding tell them that. Even though it may feel like services are not available due to Covid, your doctor, midwife or lactation consultant is there to help you if you need them. If you are unwell, need help or are worried about yourself or your baby contact them straight away.