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The first week of August is observed as breastfeeding awareness week. Although the government has allowed lactating women to be vaccinated against Covid – 19, fear among expecting mothers and new mothers is not properly addressed, thus they are facing many concerns and queries about the virus and about the process of vaccination.
Addressing the concerns of expecting mothers and lactating mothers Amrita Desai, Assistant Manager, Lactation Consultant, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals has clarified that as per the new ICMR guidelines released on July 2, 2021, breastfeeding mothers should get themselves vaccinated against Covid – 19 without any hesitation.
“Antibodies generated in the mother as a result of vaccination are passively transferred to the baby through breastfeeding and may be beneficial to the infant. Recent research and studies suggest that following immunisation, antibodies are detected in breast milk, which may help protect the newborn from Covid – 19,” she added. “The numerous benefits of skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding substantially outweigh the potential risks of transmission and illness associated with Covid- 19,” she stressed.
Further, she added that the transmission of the active Covid-19 virus through breast milk and breastfeeding has not been detected yet. So there is no reason to stop breastfeeding. But, the mother has to maintain good hygiene like washing hands frequently, using alcohol-based hand rub and especially before touching the baby, wearing a medical mask during any contact with the baby even while feeding.
She suggested, “If a mother is too unwell to breastfeed her baby due to Covid – 19 or kept in isolation, she can go for expressing breast milk or can provide donor human milk.
“If the above said ways are not possible then options of wet nursing (another woman breastfeeds the child) or infant formula milk can be explored,” she added.
Dear women, It is time to put an end to all the fears, doubts, and misconceptions regarding breastfeeding amid a pandemic by realising the facts and benefits of breastfeeding and its positive impact on child health and survival.