We've got another great episode for you today. We have Dr. Jessica Madden here, and she's talking all about the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and answering all questions about breastfeeding pregnancy and so much more. This is an episode you won't want to miss hearing great information from a reputable source. She knows all about the benefits of breastfeeding while you have this virus protecting yourself and your newborn and so much more. So check out this episode and of course, stick around at the very end for our mom tells her the week. These are our questions that we post to social media to get your take on motherhood and we'll share some fun responses to our. So without further ado, here's my interview with Dr. Jessica Madden.
Christa: Just getting started, can you just tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Dr. Madden: So my name is Jessica Madden and I'm the medical director for arrow flow breast pumps. I, my background is that I am a pediatrician and a neonatologist. So I take care of premature babies in the NICU, and I'm also a lactation consultant. I got my certification last year. And so I divide my time between working in a really big academic medical centers, neonatal intensive care. And then I also have my own side practice in which I practice newborn medicine and I do predominantly home visits. So I'll come into moms and babies homes during the postpartum period. I do medical visits, lactation checks, and jaundice. checks I'm an extra source of support for new moms. And then I had four kids who were all school age. So my baby, my baby is now nine, which is like mind boggling to me, but they're really closely spaced. So I had all four of them in five and a half years. It went by so fast that when you're in the middle of it, like when they were all babies and toddlers, I just remember every day feeling some days were really long and now it's, um, yeah, it's just flown by.
Christa: Wow. That's, that's amazing. That's you definitely, you do a lot. You're very busy, but that's, that's amazing all the stuff you do with, you know, newborns and helping moms. Cause you know, if I've learned anything with doing, you know, these interviews and everything is just the support that new moms need. They just really need that, you know, guiding hand support, whether it's breastfeeding or just postpartum care. It's amazing.
Dr. Madden: Absolutely.
Christa: Awesome. So I know we want to talk a lot today about the new variant of COVID-19, which is Omicron. And so specifically how it affects moms and babies. Cause I know there's a lot of moms in our groups and following our page that have a lot of questions about it. So I think it's really important that we, that we discuss it. So to get started, what should pregnant moms that are listening know about this new variant?
Dr. Madden: There are several things to say about it. The first is that it is much more contagious than any of the previous variants. So because of that, we are seeing many, many more pregnant women and postpartum moms and newborns who are infected with this variant of COVID compared to any point during the pandemic and because of that, it affects things on multiple levels. But for example, the hospital that I work at just over the last few weeks, we're seeing about two thirds of the moms are testing positive when they're coming in for labor and delivery. And that is so many more than we ever had before. So I think it's important to keep in mind, I think at various points, depending on where you are in the United States and what the viral patterns and trends have been the last year, I think a lot of us have, I don't know if let our guard down, we kind of got comfortable with everything. This seems to be a whole new ball game just in terms of the sheer volume of patients affected by it.
Christa: I know a lot of people are saying, or like, I've heard out there too, that this one it's more contagious, but it's not as severe of symptoms. Is that what you guys are seeing as well?
Dr. Madden: Yes and no. So for the low risk population, So children, healthy children, adolescents, young adults. It does seem like it is more of a bad cold. So like my family and I, we all had it two, two and a half weeks ago over the holidays. Bad cold, kind of between a cold and flu and symptomology and that seems to be the norm. The problem is that the high risk populations out there, including the elderly, people with underlying health problems, and that includes pregnant women, it still is - the symptoms do seem to be much more severe in those groups, including more of a risk of lung involvement. So if you're not high risk, yes, milder symptoms. But if you are high risk, especially not vaccinated, then you are still at the symptoms seem to be worse.
Christa: And if a pregnant mom goes in, you know, and you know, finds out she has the virus, is that something that she can pass on then to her unborn baby and revisit something that the baby will be tested for when, you know, they're born?
Dr. Madden: So if a mom does come into labor and delivery and does have the virus, her baby is going to automatically be tested for it. And I believe that's the case, you know, wherever you deliver, if you're in a hospital setting. Fortunately, most babies are testing negative and most babies do not have symptoms, thank God. And that's because the antibodies that moms bodies create when they have the virus, we do know those passed across the placenta from mom to baby to provide protection. Okay. We are seeing, um, in a small minority of cases that that virus itself can also pass across the placenta . So we are seeing babies who are born with it, but those cases are few and far between, um, thankfully.
Christa: Yeah. Yeah, that's good. I'm sure that there's a lot of fear around it. Like, you know, can my baby get sick? You know, and you know, as a newborn, that's gotta be very scary. So for those that, you know, have newborns right now, I'm sure there's lots of fear or wanting to keep them safe and protected from this new variant. So what are some ways to keep baby safe during this time and protect them a little bit more?
Dr. Madden: The first thing you can do proactively, if it's something that you feel comfortable with when you're pregnant, and in discussion with your OB or midwife, is to really strongly consider getting vaccinated against COVID. It is not a hundred percent protection against you getting the virus, but if you do get it, when you're vaccinated, We know for certain that this symptoms are a lot milder and you're going to have less of a viral load to pass on to your baby. Okay. So if you can't get vaccinated and you're comfortable doing that, I am not making a blanket statement saying everybody has to. Okay. That's the first one. The second thing that can help protect your baby is whether you have the virus itself or you've been vaccinated against it is to breastfeed. Even if you were not planning on breastfeeding, even being able to pumping, give milk for that first couple of weeks after you deliver. Breast milk from moms who both have the virus, had the virus within the last few months, and have been vaccinated, has antibodies against the virus that can pass from mom to baby and protect newborns. So that is another excellent way to protect your baby, is to breastfeed.
Christa: That's amazing. And so from not listening right now that maybe have, uh, you know, don't have a full supplier, do some supplementing, just still just getting a little bit of breast milk, have those antibodies and it will help.
Dr. Madden: Absolutely, yes. And even if it is one ounce, you can pump a half ounce or an ounce once a day, the first few weeks after you deliver. That probably has enough, but I don't, I can't say this is research-based, but we know just how breast milk works. There's probably such a huge antibody load that would help. So if that's something that you're able to do, even again, if you had not planned on it.
Christa: On the other end of that, so, you know, let's say if mom gets diagnosed and you know, was positive for COVID. I know we kind of talked about, I talked to about this before I had Dr. Amna on talking about COVID when it kind of first became a thing. And so with this new variant, can it be, are we finding that it can be transferred into breast milk at all? And if so, or if the mom is positive, should she continue breastfeeding? Which I'm assuming is yes, but, um, and what other, you know, what other things should she do if she tests positive during that time?
Dr. Madden: To our knowledge so far, a mom can continue breastfeeding. Uh, there are no case reports that I'm aware of with Omicron of a baby actually getting the virus through their mom's breast milk. And that pretty much reflects almost all viral illnesses that moms have. It is okay to be able to keep breastfeeding outside of just like a handful overall. And so, so far that information has been really reassuring. The one thing to keep in mind, especially if a mom has just been diagnosed and has symptoms when she is breastfeeding, it's just really important to take precautions. So does she have to be separated from her baby? No, absolutely not. And I think finally early in the pandemic, that was like a whole, big major issue of hospitals separating moms and babies. That's no longer the case. So mom and baby need to stay together. But the one thing is that if you have symptoms, with your newborn baby is being really careful to make sure to wear a really high quality mask at all times when you're around your newborn baby. So at this point, just because Omicron is so contagious, the best type of mask to wear is a K N95 or an N 95, if possible. Okay. If you have that on when you're nursing or holding your baby skin to skin or feeding your baby a bottle, that's the absolutely best way to protect your newborn.
Christa: So let's kind of talk about the vaccine. I know we kind of talked about it a little bit earlier and now there's lots of moms who have questions about it, especially if they're pregnant or breastfeeding. So what should pregnant or breastfeeding moms know about, the vaccine?
Dr. Madden: That's a really important thing to talk about. So the good news is that compared to this time last year, when the vaccines were brand new, we finally now have thousands and thousands of pregnant and breastfeeding moms who have had the vaccine and have been followed, you know, to look at their outcomes. So we have data, we love data. It's very important and it's overall extraordinarily reassuring. Um, when you look at pregnant and breastfeeding moms, who've received their vaccine versus pregnant and breastfeeding moms who did not receive the vaccine. All of the rates of possible complications are exactly the same. So there doesn't seem to be any higher risk of miscarriage or a stillbirth or premature birth or any other population, any other complication, if you, but get that, vaccinated versus unvaccinated moms. The same is for breastfeeding, the only thing that we do know based on all of the breastfeeding moms who've been studied is that after, it's usually within the first day or so of receiving the vaccine. There can be a temporary dip in their milk supply. And that's, I think in about five or 10% of breastfeeding moms. And so that's just something to be prepared for. So what I've been recommending is if you're breastfeeding and you're going to get the vaccine be prepared for that, and be sure to take it easy during that first couple of days, after getting a vaccine. You know, focusing on rest, staying hydrated, knowing that this is going to be temporary, if it happens and that within a couple of days, your milk supply will adjust.
Christa: Awesome, and I know like one of the moms in our Facebook group, when she got vaccinated and was breastfeeding, her milk changed color. So she was able to easily see that the antibodies were in there that was kind of cool.
Dr. Madden: That is really cool! Do you know what color it was? Did she share?
Christa: It was like a brighter yellow.
Dr. Madden: Yeah. Okay. That would make sense! Oh, that's really interesting.
Christa: Yeah, it was sometime like last year she was just showing us she's like, this is so cool. Then the next day, my milk has already changed colors and kind of consistent a little bit. So. So, yeah, so, you know, we talk about newborns, we talk about the vaccine. And so as kids are getting a little bit older, obviously, um, you know, in that kind of younger stage where it's, you know, before they're eligible for a vaccine or they don't really wear masks at the younger age either. So how can parents protect the younger children from this variant?
Dr. Madden: The first thing is, anyone in the household who is old enough for eligible should get vaccinated. So that's going to provide some household protection, like if every adult or an older child. The one thing that I'm really focusing on in terms of my counseling of families right now is to be really, really cautious in terms of being the gatekeeper for your household. And so for that, I mean to, I guess, really. Be assertive with not letting your well-intentioned family members, neighbors, and friends come over. If they have any symptoms at all, if they're sick or if they know that they've had an exposure to the COVID very, very recently, um, I used to be really in terms of it's counseling, I've always done throughout my career for parents of premature babies. We've always had a huge conversations, especially during winter months to not let other people into your home when you bring home a sick, fragile premature newborn. But now it's just more of that's overall counseling for everybody right now, too. So you as a mom, dad, parent, you do have the ability to say no and to tell visitors, you know, it's not the right time right now. Let's see if he can come in a couple weeks, it's okay to ask visitors to take a home COVID tests before they come to show that they're negative. Like these are all really, really reasonable things that can be hard to do because you can get pushback from like I even know in my own, if I was in that situation, I probably would too. I'd be challenged by family members who want to see me and my baby. But it's really important to do that right now.
Christa: Definitely stick to your boundaries with your, what you're comfortable, what makes sense for your family, absolutely.
Dr. Madden: Yes. And the beauty of it is the baby. Your baby's not going to remember if they met their aunt when they're two days old or two weeks old. They're not going to remember.
Christa: Exactly. Yeah, no, that's a good reminder too, because we hear it. We see posts like this in the Facebook group all the time where there's boundaries that are being crossed, you know, by family members and not respecting, like, you know, cause even like before COVID, there's, you know, there's different precautions with, you know, keeping a newborn safe and everyone just does things differently. So it's good just to respect the parents for sure. Awesome. Well, this, yeah, this was great because yeah, like I said, we get a lot of questions popping up in the Facebook group about the different variants about COVID. And so for anyone listening do you have any other words of advice for moms that are very fearful of it right now, or are just filled with a lot of uncertainty?
Dr. Madden: I think it's important to keep in mind this isn't going to be forever. It feels like it. Gosh, it feels like it doesn't it? It's definitely not. And I think again, to frame it as, is it something you need to think about? Yes. Um, but you definitely can't let the fear of this, um, take over your life. And again, there are things that are in control. Like we've talked about setting the boundaries. If you're sick, wearing the mask, get vaccinated, if you can. So there are very proactive things that you're able to do and the breast milk give a little breastmilk if possible.
Christa: I always like to end these interviews with fun thinking questions, I call them. So if you could have a billboard may today where you could share one tip with moms everywhere, what would you have it say?
Dr. Madden: Okay. Could I have two billboards?
Christa: Yeah, we'll throw an extra one in there.
Dr. Madden: I think what's important is just the words, "You Are Enough." And I hope I'm not, I feel like it's really familiar. So if I'm borrowing it from somewhere, I don't know where that is, but what I mean by that is that there's so much pressure nowadays on all moms to be perfect or to be able to do everything. And I think just realizing that for your baby, just you being you and you being mom, you are enough for them. Okay. It doesn't matter what anybody else says or what pressures you feel. And then the other one is really close to home lately, just in terms of my recent home visits is to remember. Um, so the second billboard would be, "Trust your maternal instincts", because we all have them, like we're born with them and they're anate. And I oftentimes feel like with the moms I work with, they're the most, they're oftentimes the most anxious or the most worried if they are somehow going against their maternal instincts, they know what's best for their baby, but they're getting so many mixed messages like, no, that's not the way you're supposed to feed your baby, or that's not how your baby's supposed to sleep. And so if you just go back to, what is your heart telling you? What is your intuition telling you is best for your baby? It's like, you already know you really do it's there. And so I think that's important too.
Christa: I love that. I was just talking to someone recently about like, we have this Facebook group here and it's amazing, but I always say before going into the Facebook group and overwhelming yourself with information, like have a baseline of what's important to you or else you're going to go in the Facebook group and just be like lost. Cause this person says this, this person says this and it's so easy to be pulled away from like what's true to you or what makes sense for you.
Dr. Madden: Yes. And that's, can I give an example? Because it's so true. So I am in I'm in a few local Facebook mom groups and this mom, it was just like yesterday. She posted absolutely gorgeous baby. It's like a one month old baby. Beautiful baby has a little bit of baby acne. You know, maybe I can be like almost all babies have it. It goes away. And she even wrote in her post, she said, I think it's just baby acne, but I just want to make sure. Okay. And this was so well intention from all the other moms reaching out to help her, but she ended up with like 20 different diagnoses.
Christa: Oh my gosh.
Dr. Madden: This must be a food allergy. Or like, what are you eating? Or this is a fungal infection. Um, like, oh my God, this poor mama, because she already knew it. She basically said, I'm pretty sure this is baby acne. What do you think? And then I was just putting myself in her shoes. I'm like, what is she now going to do? Like. Yeah, he has all his information overload. It's like everywhere.
Christa: Right? Yeah. Now things she wasn't even considering she's like, well wait, is it that?
Dr. Madden: Then she'll start thinking those things. Right, exactly. So it just hit what you just said. It was such a reminder yesterday reading. So I just really like at the bottom, it's like, it's baby. I can be like, you're right.
Christa: Yeah. It's so easy to get caught up in like what's on, Facebook or, you know, in a group or comparing yourself to other moms out there and just saying like, well, they're doing it that way, so should I be doing it that way? And it's yeah, it's good to know. Go like ask yourself, like to your core, like what makes sense for me and then go and ask for help. So you can have a baseline to kind of go by.
Dr. Madden: Right? Exactly.
Christa: I love that. And so of course, where can everyone follow you getting more information from you and connect with you? If they have questions?
Dr. Madden: The first place is I am I'm available through aeroflows website. I'm pretty sure my information is on there. And then I also have a new website where I put links to my private practice and some of the consulting I've done and it's newbabydoctor.com. Um, and so if you go to that website, it has links and there's a way to contact me towards the bottom of it.
Christa: Awesome. Yeah. And we'll get all those links and put them in the show notes as well. So everyone can check, check you out and contact you if they have any other questions. Thank you so much for coming on. It was great talking to you. And like I said, like, this is a topic that comes up a lot in our Facebook group, all of our social media and stuff. So it's great to hear it from like a very reputable source because you know, like we were just talking about there's so much miscommunication, misinformation online. So this was really great to have you on.
Dr. Madden: Thank you so much. It was so nice to meet you. And I really appreciate that opportunity.
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