Disclosure :: this post is sponsored by Touro Infirmary.
Breastfeeding During a Pandemic
We’ve always known that breastfeeding is the best way to help your baby get a healthy start. Breastmilk provides new babies with the necessary nutrients they need to grow properly and provides protection against potentially harmful viruses. But in the face of this global pandemic, the benefits of breastfeeding have grown exponentially, not just for babies but for moms too.
For many women, breastfeeding is an amazing experience. It creates a strong bond between mother and baby and can provide many health benefits for both. Breastfeeding provides nurturing and contact that your baby loves. Spending time skin-to-skin with you is calming and comforting. Breastmilk is proven to lower the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and babies who are solely breastfed have a lower risk for ear infections in their first year than formula-fed babies. Breast milk has DHA, a fat that helps your baby’s developing brain, nervous system, and eyes. Breastmilk is also full of antibodies that help your baby fight infection and lowers your baby’s risk for allergies, respiratory illnesses, ear infections, and diarrhea. Breastfed babies have fewer long-term health problems when they grow up. The disease-fighting factors in breastmilk are especially good for premature and other high-risk babies.
Babies are not the only ones who benefit from breastfeeding. Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk for ovarian and breast cancers. Some studies have found that breastfeeding may reduce a woman’s risk for type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular disease, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Exclusive breastfeeding delays the return of the mother’s menstrual period, which can help extend the time between pregnancies. While breastfeeding has multiple health benefits for mom and baby, there are reasons mothers may be hesitant about choosing this feeding during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s reasonable to have concerns about breastfeeding at a time when the highly contagious COVID-19 virus is easily spread through human contact. However, the COVID-19 vaccine has been recommended by the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for all individuals, especially pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. The vaccines are effective at preventing COVID-19 in people who are breastfeeding, and recent reports have shown that breastfeeding mothers who have received mRNA COVID-19 vaccines have antibodies in their breastmilk, which provides protection to babies. While COVID-19 vaccines are not yet authorized for children under the age of 12, babies can receive the protection of antibodies if breastfed by vaccinated mothers.
Much like everything else this past year, breastfeeding during a pandemic can be hard. However, it can also serve as a reprieve for mother and baby during this difficult time. Babies receive vital antibodies that help fight the infections prevalent in our community such as COVID-19 and RSV. Mothers can develop deeper bonds with their baby through the close contact process of breastfeeding and can also experience health benefits. Breastfeeding provides both mom and baby something we all value now more than ever due to this pandemic – human connection and comfort.
About Tisha Seghers, APRN-CNM, Midwife at Touro
Tisha Seghers, APRN-CNM, is a Certified Nurse Midwife at Touro. Tisha worked as a Labor and Delivery nurse for 14 years before attending graduate school to study nurse midwifery. She graduated from Frontier Nursing University in Hyden, Kentucky in September 2014 with a Master of Science degree in nursing. Tisha is a New Orleans native, married to her high-school sweetheart and mother. “I specialize in Midwifery and OB/GYN. I chose to practice Midwifery because I hope to empower women to be active participants in their healthcare. I believe in presenting options and supporting women in their decisions.”