The coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have been tough particularly for expectant and new mothers. One of the major concern areas for them has been breastfeeding their little ones in the current circumstances. Debunking myths around breastfeeding and possible infection, infertility specialist, gynaecologist, and obstetrician Dr Arockia Virgin Fernando, who consults on Practo, said “The COVID virus does not spread during the time of delivery; there is no vertical transmission like the HIV virus; the only possibility it might infect a child is through air post birth from the mother or the health care staff. Even if a mother is on her treatment for COVID-19, she can feed the baby following certain precautions.”
“As soon as the child is delivered, it is essential that the baby gets a few drops of the milk after being wrapped well and the mother wearing the protective equipment; only then the baby is separated from the mother. The child needs the breast milk for building immunity and nutrition value for the first three days as the first milk called colostrum is in it. Therefore, it is recommended that mothers wear protective kits and feed the child for 10 minutes each feed on demand of the baby. This can be avoided if the mother is in a critical condition,” she added.
The theme of World Breastfeeding Week this year is to support breastfeeding for a healthier planet and taking precautionary measures in light of the global pandemic. Here are some breastfeeding do’s and don’ts for mothers to follow, suggested Dr Arockia.
*Wash your hands before and after touching your baby.
*Wear a mask while nursing.
*Wash your hands before touching your breast pump or bottle parts. Clean and sterilise all parts after each use.
*Feed the baby for 10 minutes from both breasts and immediately give the baby to the attendant.
*Feed from both the breasts equally.
*A feeding chair for back support and pillow to avoid strain on hands.
*Cradle, football or reclining position — anything is fine according to comfort.
*6 feet distance between mother and baby, that is different rooms.
*The partner and family members should take precautions and do babysitting.
*Overexpose yourself to the baby if you are positive or with mild symptoms.
*Compromise with personal hygiene.
*A mother’s milk acts as the first immunisation, providing holistic nutrition and immunity against infections to the new-born. Here are some dietary recommendations for new mothers:
*Make sure to intake a lot of fresh leafy vegetables like spinach and maintain a high protein diet. Include pulses, chickpeas, sprouts, oats, fennel, bottle gourd, drumstick leaves in diet. These increase breast milk.
*Maintain fluid content in the body in the form of freshly prepared juices, soups and snacks like bread or rusk before feeding.
*Consume vitamin C and antioxidant rich foods.
*Ask your doctor to prescribe a zinc tablet (if not already done) for increased immunity.
*Avoid spicy food as it causes acidity and can affect the baby. Also, avoid having too much mango as it also leads to acidity.
Support and counselling
Considering the current circumstances, some pregnant women or new mothers may suffer depression or anxiety, especially if she tests positive or suffers mild symptoms. Therefore, partner’s and family’s support in daily chores is a must to keep everyday worries at bay for the new mother.
“New mothers should definitely be given at least one counselling session regarding breastfeeding before they get discharged from the hospital. Thereafter, these sessions can continue online every week so that the new mother is more confident and clear about breastfeeding. Sometimes partners’ support is required to help fit the baby in the right feeding position,” said Dr Arockia.
While tackling covid-19 is the top priority of the healthcare system, community support, partner’s intervention and the right diet can help new mothers fight anxiety especially during these difficult times.
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