Expressed Breastmilk and Gloves
A recent query from one of our members was around wearing gloves when feeding an infant expressed breast milk. Due to breast milk being classified as a bodily fluid, there are some confusing messages out there around this practice – and there is no specific guidelines relating to this matter.
Under the Qld Transplantation and Anatomy Act 1979, Breastmilk is defined as a tissue – it is a bodily fluid and should be handled as such. Diseases such as HIV can be transmitted from an infected mother to her infant through her Breastmilk.
The recognised guidelines for health and hygiene are considered to be the Staying Healthy: Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services (5th Edition). Part three is the most relevant section and there is no specific reference to breast milk, however section 3.2.1 specifically deals with wearing gloves:
Do I really need to wear gloves?
If there is a chance that you may come in contact with faeces, urine, saliva, vomit or blood, you should wear disposable gloves. If you are not likely to come in contact with these body fluids, there is no need to wear gloves.
If you do come in contact with body fluids but gloves are not available, it is important to thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you finish the activity
If early year’s settings implement these guidelines in relation to the handling of bodily fluids they would require staff to wear gloves when handling Breastmilk, as it is classified as a bodily fluid.