In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many families around the world are currently confined to their homes with their breastfeeding babies.
We have never experienced anything like this before. This is the first time we have faced a situation like this and it is normal that you have many doubts. What we can tell you is that many of you feel the same way, so we are going to try to answer those questions that many of you have asked us:
If my baby notices my tension, can it harm my baby or spoil the milk?
Babies do notice our tension, just as any other adult does. Babies are often reactive to the emotions we show. If we are tense, they are looking out for us – it’s pure survival instinct.
It is natural for us to be tense or worried about this situation! It is impossible not to be, but what you should know is that the tension and anxiety you may be experiencing does certainly not spoil your milk, nor does it make it bad or dangerous for your baby.
I am feeling very anxious and tense, am I going to run out of milk?
Milk doesn’t go away because of stress. We know that many of you feel as if you would have less milk supply and of course this is very worrying. Breastmilk doesn’t decrease because of stress, the amount of milk you produce will be the same. What can be more complicated is the ejection of milk. When we are very nervous, oxytocin, the hormone that sends the milk to the nipple, can work more slowly. So it doesn’t mean that your milk has dried up, just that it may take a little longer for it to come out.
That’s why it’s important to get at least a few moments of relax: listen to your favourite music, the kind that makes you jump or gives you goosebumps, watch a TV series that relaxes you while you breastfeed, do yoga for 10 minutes, hold your baby closely or hug your isolation partner, enjoy your favourite meal. Any little moment of relax will make your milk flow more easily.
My baby is more demanding and feeds more often
No matter how old your baby is, he or she may be more reactive to everything. And we are more reactive too. We are all aware of the news, of what is happening, we don’t talk about anything else and this tension is also felt by our children. So it is completely normal that they are more demanding. And if your baby is older, he or she is likely to get bored, will not understand why he or she can’t leave the house or go to the park and not understand what’s going on, nor what’s happening to us grown-ups. And their way to get reassurance and stay calm might be to not leave your breast.
My toddler spends all day on my breast
Having mummy locked up in the house with her breast at the ready is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Of course for us it’s exhausting and very hard, but for them it is a beautiful dream come true.
And depending on the age of your little one, it’s not unusual for them to be very demanding and even more interested in breastfeeding. If we add to that situation that they perceive our tension, they will still want more and more feeding. We are afraid there is no magic solution, it is possible that if you are alone and you no longer have the resources to entertain your child, this will be an option to have a few minutes of peace.
If you are not alone at home, ask your partner to help you to have some time for yourself, to allow you to have a little space and air, and to get better thru these days of confinement.
Also, depending on your child’s age, you could use some of the methods we suggest for weaning (keeping in mind if you really want or do not want to wean your child completely off the breast).
You will need to use a lot of imagination and will feel like you have to make up new ideas all the time: shorten the feed at your breast and make listening to your child’s favourite song last just that little bit longer, postpone the feed by proposing an irresistibly fun activity, make your child wait just a few minutes longer before the feed (1 or 2 minutes that you can extended as he or she accepts them and takes it better).
My baby hardly sleeps and has started to feed many more times at night.
Perhaps your baby is calmer during the day, but at night he or she is more restless (perhaps it is feeding more frequently by day and by night) and demands to be breastfed more often.
Babies’ sleep changes as they grow up and we know that it can also change very easily as a reaction to the circumstances around them. Your child may be more or less calm during the day, but at night he or she may be feeding more. It is not unusual for many babies to release all the accumulated tension of the day at night and therefore they may breastfeed much more often at night.
This experience is putting us all to the test and is conditioning absolutely all the plans we had. Although it is possible that the baby is now feeding more often than usual, it is also true that breastfeeding can now be a great ally to calm the baby and help us get through this situation better.
In case you have been infected by COVID-19 or have symptoms that make you think that you might have the virus, you can continue breastfeeding if you wish so by taking extra hygiene measures.