World Breastfeeding Week: Health benefits of breastfeeding and how to do it right during the COVID 19 pandemic

Updated on Aug 09, 2021 11:48 AM IST  |  156K
   
World Breastfeeding Week: Health benefits of breastfeeding and how to do it right during the COVID 19 pandemic
World Breastfeeding Week: Health benefits of breastfeeding and how to do it right during the COVID 19 pandemic
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A new mother’s attachment becomes strong when she first has a skin-to-skin contact with her child, this bond becomes long-lasting once the child has the mother’s milk. Breastfeeding is known to be the most beneficial act for both mother and child’s development - not only this is seen on an emotional level but this practice is even know to have physical health benefits.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure health and survival of the child. Infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months. Over 820,000 children’s lives could be saved every year among children under 5 years, if all children 0-23 months old were optimally breastfed.

On World Breastfeeding Awareness Week observed from Aug 1 to Aug 7, let’s look at these various aspects of breastfeeding.

Health benefits

The milk of a lactating mother is high in its nutritional properties and contains proteins, vitamins and minerals. This helps not only in the physical development of the child but also their intellectual growth. Due to the antibodies present in it and as it is easier for the growing child to digest breast milk, fewer children face digestive system related problems like – diarrhoea, stomach upset and constipation. Also, they are less prone to get viruses and chronic diseases. During the neonatal phase, these toddlers are less likely to even fall sick and the mother’s milk even helps them to maintain a healthy weight.

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Mothers are benefitted when they breastfeed, it is known that the act helps the uterus to contract faster. There is a lower risk for her to suffer from breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Also, breastfeeding helps to burn calories. This practice even helps the mental health of the woman who has gone through a physical and emotional turmoil, especially during delivery. The skin-to-skin contact while feeding milk releases oxytocin – love hormone, which is also associated with love and trust, this eventually helps in developing a strong bond between the mother and child. Due to the release of this hormone, it even helps the mother to be less stressed, calm and it reduces her chances of postpartum depression.

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Breastfeeding – during COVID-19 infection 

If a new mother is infected with the COVID-19 virus, there is no harm for her to breastfeed her child. So far there have been no cases of a child to be infected with the virus through breast milk and breastfeeding.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) advices for these lactating mothers to follow basic hygiene practices while doing so – the mother should put on a facemask and practice hand hygiene before each feeding. Also, in case the mother is too unwell and is using a pump to bottle feed her milk, she should clean her hands thoroughly before expressing breast milk and after each pumping session, all parts that come into contact with breast milk should be thoroughly washed and the entire pump should be appropriately disinfected.

Breastfeeding after COVID-19 vaccination

A lactating mother who has taken the jab should not refrain from breastfeeding her child. In fact research has shown that the mothers who are vaccinated do not carry the vaccine in their breast milk, so it does not get passed on to the child. However, due to the vaccine there are antibodies present in their breast milk, which could actually help the child to not get infected. 

About the author: Dr Kshitiz Murdia – CEO & Co-Founder, Indira IVF

Also Read; EXCLUSIVE: World Breastfeeding Week: Does stress impact milk production of breastfeeding mothers?

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