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  • Pinay Nurse From UK Continued To Breastfeed Son After Testing Positive For COVID-19

    According to her doctor, the benefits outweigh the risks.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Pinay Nurse From UK Continued To Breastfeed Son After Testing Positive For COVID-19
PHOTO BY courtesy of Mary Ann Munoz-Vergara
  • No one wants to be infected with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Parents of young children are especially worried — getting infected means having to self-isolate and be apart from your kids. If you’re breastfeeding, you might also be wondering how it will affect you and your baby.

    Mom Mary Ann Munoz-Vergara, 29, a nurse residing in London, United Kingdom, decided that she will continue breastfeeding her 9-month-old son, Andres, despite testing positive for COVID-19. In an interview with SmartParenting.com.ph on Facebook Messenger, Mary Ann shares that her general practitioner (GP) or doctor gave her the go signal and encouraged her to continue breastfeeding. “I was advised to continue, ensuring that I observe proper hand hygiene. Kasi the benefits outweigh the risks,” she says.

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    She also read up on research on what breastfeeding moms should do in case they contract the virus. Mary Ann cited an article by Dr. Jack Newman, a Canadian pediatrician and breastfeeding expert, who advocates continuous breastfeeding and keeping the mother and baby together when either of them has been exposed to coronavirus.

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    In the Philippines, the Department of Health also strongly recommends breastfeeding, so long as the mom is wearing a mask and taking all necessary preventive measures to protect the newborn. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition and a newborn's first protection against infections. (Read more about it here.)

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    “Honestly, I have my stash at home but I opted for direct latching because I felt like it was safer than handling bay bottles,” Mary Ann shares.

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    Finding out she was positive

     

    Mary Ann with husband Patten, and son Andres.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Mary Ann Munoz-Vergara
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    As a frontliner, Mary Ann was aware that she could contract the virus any time, even as she was looking after long-term patients. "We had patients suspected of COVID-19. And they eventually had positive tests. Yung patients na yun, I came in contact with," she shares, adding that it was particularly risky because they were also experiencing a shortage in personal protective equipment (PPE).

    “Even before I tested positive, I was already very scared and feeling guilty that I had to work and leave my son. But it is also my duty to serve,” the mom shared.

    On March 28, 2020, she began experiencing body pain and severe headache. “I knew then that it was the flu-like symptoms of COVID-19,” she says. She was tested on March 30 and got her results the next day.

    Mary Ann was devastated. “I was crying and I was guilty of everything — that I brought it home, that I can get my husband and child infected,” she shares.

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    Once she got the news that she was positive, Mary Ann and her husband, Patten, immediately discussed their options. She was advised to isolate at home, but she was worried about passing on the disease to her husband and child. “They don’t test the other members of the household here, unlike in the Philippines. What they advise you is to isolate at home. Also, if your symptoms are manageable or mild, you are advised to recover at home,” she explains.

    Mary Ann says that she and her husband weighed the pros and cons of the situation. “The thing is, I’ve already exposed them. I had been at home for two days before my symptoms appeared. So I told my husband that we’ll just wear masks at home, wear gloves when preparing food, and observe hand hygiene when in contact with our baby,”

    She adds, “Our children kasi, they need us, right? More than anyone else. I knew then we are the best persons to care for our boy.”

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    Breastfeeding with COVID-19

     

    When Mary Ann found out she was positive with COVID-19, she knew that she still needed to continue breastfeeding her son.
    PHOTO BY courtesy of Mary Ann Munoz-Vergara

     

    In the days that followed, Mary Ann developed low-grade fever with chills. She also had a cough and lost her sense of smell and taste. Thankfully, this only lasted for a week.

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    Mary Ann let Andres latch on her as often as he wanted, even as she battled with her symptoms. “[Prior to having COVID-19], we usually have feeding times. But when I had the virus, our routine changed. I just let him latch as often as he wants except at night because he sleeps on his own,” she explains. “It was only during his sleep that he was separated from us. I also didn’t feed him in our bed and we didn’t let him inside our room.”

    Mary Ann was sick for three weeks and she tested positive for the virus four times. His husband also presented COVID-19 symptoms, although he was not tested for the virus. 

    In those three weeks, Andres was healthy. He also did not develop any symptoms, even after Mary Ann finally tested negative (twice!) for COVID-19. “Liquid gold indeed!” she shares. 

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    Overcoming COVID-19

    In a viral Facebook post where Mary Ann shared her experience, the mom says it was difficult to act normal while they looked after Andres. “We didn’t want him to sense that’s something’s wrong — that mom is a little sick or tatay can’t play with him,” Mary Ann writes. “We attended to his needs, played with him, laughed with him, prayed with him. We praise God for sustaining us.”

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    She shares that what they did was a gamble. It was a risk they had to take, but they did it while keeping their doctor’s advice in mind.

    “Battling the virus with a baby on your side is indeed very challenging and scary. My husband and I knew that we cannot control what the virus will do to our body but we can always control our emotions as we heal. There was so much room for hope,” Mary Ann says. 

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    Pregnant or breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic? Click here for everything you need to know about how the virus can affect your health.

    For the latest news and updates on COVID-19, check out reportr.world/covid-19.

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