Andhra Pradesh

Breastfeeding is highly recommended even during COVID-19

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During the second wave surge of COVID-19, the common worry of lactating mothers, who were affected by the pandemic, was whether they could breastfeed their babies. Some general physicians were also unsure whether infected mothers could breastfeed their babies, causing all the more anxiety among families with infants.

World Breastfeeding Awareness Week is observed from August 1 to 7.

“Breastfeeding is highly recommended even during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus is not transmitted through breast milk. However, the mother, if infected, needs to take precautions to avoid spread via nasal droplets and touch, says Dr. Leela Digumarti, Public Awareness Committee in charge, Obstetric and Gynaecological Society of Visakhapatnam. She was speaking to The Hindu, in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday.

Washing hands before and after touching the baby, wearing a proper mask and not sneezing near the baby, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, are the important precautions to be taken by a COVID positive mother while breastfeeding. Alternatively, a pump can be used to collect the milk and the baby can be fed with a feeding bottle, if an infected mother has concerns over the safety of her child.

The first priority of a mother used to be the breastfeeding of her baby. With changing times and lifestyle, women started to work, slowly moving away from breastfeeding to artificial feeds, recalls Dr. Leela.

The “Innocenti Declaration” was made by the WHO and UNICEF to make lactating mothers aware of the importance of breastfeeding and to revive the good old practice. The declaration states that “all women should be enabled to practice exclusive breastfeeding and all infants should be fed exclusively on breast milk up to 4 to 6 months of age as a global goal for optimal maternal and child health and nutrition”.

Subsequently, the ‘World Alliance for Breast-Feeding Action’ (WABA), an NGO from the USA, started Breastfeeding Awareness Week in 1992.

“The advantages of breastfeeding are multifold. Human breast milk contains the right mix of nutrients for the baby’s physical and intellectual growth. It is available at the right temperature and is easily digested by the baby’s gut.”

“Antibodies in breast milk protect the baby against infections, allergies, asthma and other digestive disturbances, thereby reducing neonatal and infant death rates. It also protects babies against ‘sudden infant death syndrome’. It is proven beyond doubt that breast feeding enhances the bonding between the baby and its mother,” adds Dr. Leela.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2021 4:03:42 PM |

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