Breastfeeding is an integral part of the development and growth of a newborn. As claimed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) infants must be breastfed for the first 6 months followed by constant breastfeeding accompanied with other complementary foods up till the age of 2 years and even beyond. Health organizations have come up with many covid guidelines for lactating mothers keeping in view the public interest, following them congruously will help both the mother and the child.
Why Breastmilk Is Essential For Babies?
Breast milk is the foremost essential food for babies. It supplies full nutrition and energy to the infants for the first few months of life. Breastfeeding ensures sensory and cognitive development of the child safeguarding them from usual illnesses such as diarrhea, pneumonia, and other chronic diseases in the later stages of life. Mothers who breastfeed are also at lesser risk of ovarian and breast cancer. Breastfeeding secures better health and well-being of both the mother and the child. Breastfeeding is also considered the most sheltered way of feeding. Having said that, now the doubt is whether covid-19 positive mothers can transfer the SARS-CoV-2 virus to their infant through breast milk or not.
What Are The Covid Guidelines For Lactating Mothers?
Studies show very confined data with regard to breastfeeding and covid-19. The spread of the active Covid-19 infection, the virus that can cause covid infection through breastfeeding has not been identified as yet. The countless benefits of breastfeeding outrun the possible threats connected with covid-19. As per the guidelines issued by the world health organization, both mother and child are suggested to stay in close touch sharing the same room. Staying connected and practicing skin-to-skin contact improves neonatal care and minimizes distress as stated by health experts. Kangaroo mother care immediately after the birth or while breastfeeding will ensure a safe and healthy atmosphere for the newborn as recommended by WHO.
Various benefits of breastfeeding during covid-19 are as follows;
- It protects the babies from many infections. Although it is not proven that breastfeeding safeguards the babies from Sars-CoV-2 studies reveal the protection of infants against varied respiratory ailments.
- Breastfeeding proves beneficial for the mother also as it excretes the hormones that aids in reducing tension and anxiety.
- Breast milk is comfortably accessible during pandemics and public health emergencies. as going out in such situations is a challenge.
How Long Are The Covid Antibodies In Breast Milk?
Many health departments propagate the use of Covid 19 vaccines for lactating mothers. The vaccines are counted to be safe when breastfeeding. Many lactating mothers have been immunized with both doses of covid vaccines. In accordance with the latest survey, covid-19 mRNA vaccine antibodies are seen in the breastmilk of vaccinated mothers, subsequently which may transfer to the infant as well. The results showcased the release of Sars-CoV-2 specific lgA and lgG antibodies in the breast milk after six weeks of vaccination. These antibodies will protect the child from many prevailing infections in society. Further research is required to ascertain how the antibodies work for the baby’s immunity system.
Precautions While Breastfeeding During Covid-19
If the mother is covid positive with a newborn, she should follow certain guidelines to avoid the further transmission of the virus to the child. Discontinuation of breastfeeding is not suggested. In fact, breastfeeding your child will help him/her to fight against many health odds.
Few points to keep in mind while breastfeeding are;
- Wash your hands properly with soap at least for 15 seconds before touching the child
- Used hand sanitiser
- Wear a proper mask when breastfeeding your child
- Keep your new-born 6 feet away from you
- Disinfect the surfaces touched by you
- Maintain proper indoor ventilation
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Keep clean environment and maintain hygiene
- Cover the face and nose when in contact with the baby even during breastfeeding.
- Use of tissue while coughing and sneezing is recommended Dispose of the infected tissue at once after use
- Pumping out breast milk when needed
- Clean your breast pump after each use
The best way to shield your baby is to get the covid-19 vaccine. Observing all the covid guidelines for lactating mothers issued by various health experts will help to protect the small tots in these pandemic hours.
Sudheendra is a passionate blogger for 8 years and holds a Degree in Journalism & Mass Communications. His writings particularly focus on health, medicine, diet & lifestyle. For him, everything that interlinks and relates to health & medical world entices him. His write-ups aim at educating people not by just giving facts but by infusing human touch.