The mother has to be asymptomatic in case she wishes to hold her baby

According to the ministerial decree in effect, a mother who is confirmed as positive has to be separated from her newborn and the breast milk is also considered hazardous waste, thus it has to be thrown away. According to the newly modified methodology this will change: the breast milk is not considered hazardous waste and the coronavirus positive, asymptomatic mother may breastfeed her child. But the methodology in itself is not enough, also the decree has to be modified. The new protocol though makes births even more case-dependent.

A team of mothers – among them lawyers and psychologists – started to make pressure on a national level so that the committees of the Health Ministry responsible for the maternity, gynecology and newborn departments change the methodology according to which the babies of the mothers confirmed as positive or presumed to be infected are taken away until the negative test arrives.

This goes against the recommendation of the WHO (World Health Organisation), according to which there is no proof that the baby can be infected through breast milk so they do not recommend the separation of the mother and her newborn. National NGOs are asking since March the harmonization of the methodology with the recommendations of the WHO for the facilitation of breastfeeding of the mothers infected with COVID-19 because several studies prove that while taking the necessary precautionary measures the benefits of breastfeeding exceed the risk of infection.

It made a difference but left many loopholes

The committees of the national Health Ministry made changes to the methodology but the new recommendation left a lot of loopholes. According to the new recommendation the positive but asymptomatic mother may breastfeed and provide for his child after giving birth according to a common, written agreement after she was correctly informed about her possibilities and she has signed her personalized approval.

Furthermore the breast milk of the COVID-19 positive mother does not count as hazardous waste, she may breastfeed her child and the baby can also get pre-pumped milk. In the case where the mother is positive and has symptoms also, the baby is taken away and is also tested. In case the results of the baby are also positive he/she will be put under surveillance on the intensive care unit providing for newborns and will be tested again within 48 hours or any other time in case he/she shows symptoms. In case of a negative test result the baby stays in a incubator at the neonatology department  and the staff of the hospital may feed her with the pre-pumped breast milk of the mother – in case the health situation of the mother allows that. At the same time in case the baby has two consecutive negative tests, after a discussion with the father/family there is also a possibility of letting the baby leave the hospital.

There is also a need to modify the decree

This methodology counts as a recommendation, as also the one in March, which means that the Health Ministry decree 2020/555 in continously valid, which is stronger from the legal point of view than a recommendation. In this decree it is stipulated that in all cases the newborns of positive mothers are separated but this happens unreasonably in many cases. According to the new protocol now they can be together but only if the doctor judges that she has no symptoms.

The price of the exaggerated caution: lawyer Krisztina Péter pointed out that the violation of the rights of the patients is also alarming, because according to the law the approval of the patient is needed in every intervention case, the mother giving birth is legally also a patient and while doing interventions on the baby the approval of the mother would be also needed. In case they are separated, it counts as violation of patient rights if they do not ask for the written approval of the parent while doing interventions on the baby.

Featured photo: Istock. 




Author: Blanka Székely