A silver lining: The Covid+ve mother who breastfed her child

DMO Dr Sajinglu Chai Pul and her team with the Covid-19 recovered person in Lohitpur on Saturday.

[ Tongam Rina ]
ITANAGAR, Jun 27: An asymptomatic Covid-19 positive mother continued to breastfeed her six-month-old child at the advice of the doctors.
Speaking to this daily, the mother, who has since recovered, said that she took precautions, as advised by the doctors, while breastfeeding.
“I washed my hands, wore a mask and did not touch the face of the baby each time I breastfed the child,” she said, speaking to this reporter from the Lohitpur ITBP establishment in Lohit district.
“The baby boy had to be breastfed every two hours. My husband took care of our child the rest of the time,” she said.
Lohit District Medical Officer, Dr Sajinglu Chai Pul said that the woman was advised to continue breastfeeding as there is no concrete evidence yet that the coronavirus is transmitted through breast milk.
“Hand and respiratory hygiene is important,” Dr Chai Pul said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that, “based on available evidence, WHO recommendations on the initiation and continued breastfeeding of infants and young children also apply to mothers with suspected or confirmed Covid-19.”
“Data are not sufficient to conclude vertical transmission of Covid-19 through breastfeeding. In infants, the risk of Covid-19 infection is low, and the infection is typically mild or asymptomatic, while the consequences of not breastfeeding and separation between mother and child can be significant.
“At this point it appears that Covid-19 in infants and children represents a much lower threat to survival and health than other infections that breastfeeding is protective against. Adherence to infection prevention and control measures is essential to prevent contact transmission between Covid-19 suspected or confirmed mothers and their newborns and young infants,” according to the WHO.
The woman had come back from Haryana on 24 May. Her sample was collected on 28 May, and the result came back positive on 2 June. Her husband and the child tested negative.
Dr Chai Pul said that the patient was not sent to a Covid care centre as the ITBP already has a medical facility within its campus. It was decided that, since the woman was asymptomatic, she would be home-quarantined with a doctor on call.
The residents in the immediate vicinity were shifted out, and a doctor moved in upstairs of the accommodation where the woman and her family were staying.
She was checked on everyday.
“I was very surprised when the result came in positive, as I had taken all the precautions while travelling,” she said.
The mother said that she had no physical symptoms. “It was mentally stressful,” she said. “It is important to keep a positive mind-frame and stay motivated,” she said, recalling the negativity after she had tested positive.
“There is so much fear surrounding the virus. Not all of us who get the virus end up in ventilators,” she said.
“We should not stigmatize those who get the virus,” she said, and urged people to treat everyone with compassion and stay positive.
On 21 June, she tested negative for the first time.
As per the protocol set by the state’s health department, she was tested again after her result came negative. Her second sample also tested negative on Friday.
Dr Pul Chai and her team gave her a certificate of recovery on Saturday in Lohitpur. The medical team also gave the mom a Mishmi traditional bag to congratulate her on her recovery.
The mom is looking forward to getting back to normal life, which includes holding her child as he is used to being held, without any fear or worry.