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World Breastfeeding Week: Precautions To Take In Times Of COVID-19 Pandemic To Safeguard Breastfeeding Babies

According to experts, a mother who tests COVID-19 positive must continue breastfeeding because the antibodies produced by her immune system will also be secreted in breastmilk providing the babies a readymade protection against the virus

World Breastfeeding Week: Precautions To Take In Times Of COVID-19 Pandemic To Safeguard Breastfeeding Babies
Highlights
  • Experts say mothers need to maintain proper hygiene while breastfeeding
  • Breastfeeding is a lot more than just providing food to the baby: Experts
  • Benefits of breastfeeding outweigh the risks of COVID-19 infection: WHO

New Delhi: According to experts, breastmilk is the most essential and irreplaceable nutrition for a child’s development. However, a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says that around 60 per cent of infants miss out on exclusive breastfeeding in the initial months. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow, doctors worry that lack of awareness and the uncertainties around the pandemic can create panic among new mothers which may further discourage them from breastfeeding their babies. This year the World Breastfeeding Week is being celebrated from August 1 to 7, the theme for the current year is ‘Support breastfeeding for a healthier planet’. Speaking to NDTV Dr. Veena Aggarwal, Gynaecologist, MD, Medical Advisor Medtalks.in and Dr. Shacchee Baweja, lactation specialist, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, New Delhi explain the ways to support the lactating mothers keep babies safe while breastfeeding during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Also Read: World Breastfeeding Week: Many Health Benefits For Lactating Mother, Child

Tip 1: Continue To Breastfeed Eeven If You Fall Sick

Dr Baweja asserts that irrespective of the mother’s COVID-19 status, breastfeeding should be initiated at the earliest and exclusive breastfeeding should be practised for the first six months of the baby’s life. She says that till now, the available data has clearly shown that coronavirus does not get transmitted via breastmilk. She further adds,

A mother who tests COVID-19 positive must continue breastfeeding because the antibodies produced by her immune system will also be secreted in breastmilk providing the babies a readymade protection against the virus.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) also recommends that mothers with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should be encouraged the same as all other mothers to initiate or continue breastfeeding. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in his address to the media,

The many benefits of breastfeeding for newborn babies and children substantially outweigh the potential risks of COVID-19 infections.

Tip 2: Practise Good Hand Hygiene

Emphasising on the importance of washing hands frequently, Dr Aggarwal said that mother should always go near babies with clean hand and must avoid touching their mouth or nose. She said,

After the delivery of a baby, breastfeeding is an important form of contact between a mother and a child. This is because breastfeeding not only provides food for the baby, it also plays and important role in the development of a bond and providing warmth, security and love to the baby. However, it is extremely important that proper hygiene is being practised at all time.

In order to keep hands germs free, WHO recommends washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds or rubbing an alcohol-based sanitiser.

Also Read: In Maharashtra’s Amravati and Nandurbar Districts New Mothers Are Championing The Cause Of Breastfeeding, Courtesy Nutrition India Programme

Tip 3: Disinfect Baby’s Gears And Other Touched Surfaces Regularly

Along with washing hands regularly, the experts emphasise on wiping or disinfecting the frequently touched surfaces like baby’s bottles, utensils, toys, clothes and bedding, in order to reduce the risk of them catching the virus.

Tip 4: Follow Social Distancing Guidelines Strictly

According to both the experts, it is crucial to follow government advisories on social distancing. Dr. Aggarwal said,

Birth of a baby is a special occasion for families and friends. They all are always excited to meet the newborn. But they must be asked to maintain social distancing. It is better to do a video call with them instead of having them to visit the baby.

She further said that in order to ensure less movement in the outside world, the parents must ensure to sufficient supplies like diapers, food, medicines, and other necessary items for the baby for at least a few weeks.

Dr. Baweja highlighted that currently, most of the cases of COVID-19 in the country are asymptomatic which means that the infected person may not show any symptoms. Thus, having people in contact with the baby may put it at the risk of contracting the infection as the immunity of newborns is low, she said.

Tip 5: Wear A Mask

Dr. Agarwal suggests that as a precautionary measure, mothers should wear a mask as a routine while feeding the baby to ensure that the baby is protected. She said,

While it is necessary for mothers who are sick or infected with COVID-19 to wear the mask all the time, it is recommended that those who are not infected must also wear a mask while breastfeeding to ensure safety of the baby.

Also Read: Breastfeeding And Coronavirus Outbreak: Here Is What Nursing Mothers Should Know

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

23,96,06,768Cases
20,13,42,617Active
3,33,82,100Recovered
48,82,051Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 23,96,06,768 and 48,82,051 have died; 20,13,42,617 are active cases and 3,33,82,100 have recovered as on October 15, 2021 at 4:15 am.

India

3,40,37,592 16,862Cases
2,03,6782,908Active
3,33,82,100 19,391Recovered
4,51,814 379Deaths
In India, there are 3,40,37,592 confirmed cases including 4,51,814 deaths. The number of active cases is 2,03,678 and 3,33,82,100 have recovered as on October 15, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,86,280 2,384

33,157 6

64,13,418 2,343

1,39,705 35

Kerala

48,29,944 9,246

96,421 1,802

47,06,856 10,952

26,667 96

Karnataka

29,82,399 310

9,607 43

29,34,870 347

37,922 6

Tamil Nadu

26,83,396 1,259

15,451 199

26,32,092 1,438

35,853 20

Andhra Pradesh

20,59,122 540

6,588 27

20,38,248 557

14,286 10

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,008 12

135 4

16,86,976 16

22,897

West Bengal

15,79,012 530

7,576 81

15,52,491 601

18,945 10

Delhi

14,39,311 28

337 1

14,13,885 29

25,089

Odisha

10,33,809 521

4,890 38

10,20,645 477

8,274 6

Chhattisgarh

10,05,614 16

203 4

9,91,841 20

13,570

Rajasthan

9,54,382 8

42 6

9,45,386 2

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,244 34

215 20

8,15,943 14

10,086

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,669 12

111 1

7,82,035 11

10,523

Haryana

7,71,035 16

105 158

7,60,881

10,049 174

Bihar

7,26,016 8

42 6

7,16,313 2

9,661

Telangana

6,68,618 168

4,171 40

6,60,512 207

3,935 1

Assam

6,05,847 207

3,646 157

5,96,263 362

5,938 2

Punjab

6,01,971 33

234 11

5,85,199 16

16,538 6

Jharkhand

3,48,406 11

130 4

3,43,141 7

5,135

Uttarakhand

3,43,729 28

175 22

3,36,157 6

7,397

Jammu And Kashmir

3,30,834 93

935 11

3,25,473 104

4,426

Himachal Pradesh

2,21,113 182

1,387 5

2,16,011 173

3,715 4

Goa

1,77,356 68

679 27

1,73,342 39

3,335 2

Puducherry

1,27,259 49

647 4

1,24,763 53

1,849

Manipur

1,22,432 69

1,444 15

1,19,099 84

1,889

Mizoram

1,10,719 901

13,601 435

96,744 1,332

374 4

Tripura

84,295 4

110 8

83,369 12

816

Meghalaya

82,734 87

892 31

80,411 115

1,431 3

Chandigarh

65,295 10

32 5

64,443 15

820

Arunachal Pradesh

54,958 4

202 22

54,476 26

280

Sikkim

31,722 6

224 1

31,108 7

390

Nagaland

31,516 9

230 8

30,613 17

673

Ladakh

20,867 6

44 2

20,615 4

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,675

3 1

10,668 1

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

2 0

10,312

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,640 3

10 1

7,501 2

129

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