Pregnancy and Breastfeeding during COVID-19
As of today, April 30, 2020, the "Safer at Home" orders are still in place in Southern California, but what does this mean for pregnant mamas that are due soon? The answer to this question seems to be changing daily.
I've been advising my clients to work closely with their OB to determine a plan in advance. Depending upon the OB and their policies, you may be able to call them directly on their cell or they may advise you to call their 24 hour line prior to driving to the hospital to verify that you are in true labor (versus false labor). For example, if your water breaks, what does your OB want you to do? The answer prior to COVID-19 was to go to L&D. It's best to have a plan of action set in place with your OB to determine what is best for you, your partner, your baby and also to prevent exposure to COVID-19 given that the people who are symptomatic and the most sick are being cared for at the hospital. If in false labor, it is best to stay home as this prevents exposure to COVID-19 and the hospital will likely send you back there anyway.
What about partners? Can they stay at the hospital? Can they attend their baby's birth? The tide seems to be changing here a bit and for the better! Starting at the end of March through early-mid April many hospitals were only allowing the support person to stay for a short period of time following delivery. Some hospitals are now extending the length of stay for partners and others are even allowing partners to stay for the duration of admission! I have been advising my clients to stay on top of this and plan accordingly. The policy varies per hospital/healthcare system.
If you are healthy at the time of delivery, I highly encourage immediate skin-to-skin care, partaking in the Golden Hour (uninterrupted skin-to-skin for 1 hour following delivery) and early initiation of breastfeeding during the Golden Hour. It is one of the best things you can do for your baby's emotional and physical health immediately after birth (and for your own breastfeeding & postpartum health as well). If you have symptoms of COVID-19, were exposed to someone with COVID-19 and have concerns about your health or test positive for COVID-19, you will work closely with your physician to determine a plan of care for you and your baby.
For recommendations regarding breastfeeding please review an article I wrote for South Bay Mommies and Daddies titled Breastfeeding and COVID-19. As I mentioned previously, recommendations are changing daily and this article includes links that you can review from the WHO, CDC, Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, NIH and AAP.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions!
Stay safe and healthy!
Lisa Grossman, BSN, RN, PHN, IBCLC, CLC, CLEC