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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

24,50,12,529Cases
20,64,25,824Active
3,36,14,434Recovered
49,72,271Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,50,12,529 and 49,72,271 have died; 20,64,25,824 are active cases and 3,36,14,434 have recovered as on October 28, 2021 at 4:00 am.

India

3,42,31,809 16,156Cases
1,60,9891,672Active
3,36,14,434 17,095Recovered
4,56,386 733Deaths
In India, there are 3,42,31,809 confirmed cases including 4,56,386 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,60,989 and 3,36,14,434 have recovered as on October 28, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

66,06,536 1,485

23,096 3,500

64,43,342 4,947

1,40,098 38

Kerala

49,38,603 9,445

77,158 2,100

48,31,468 6,723

29,977 622

Karnataka

29,86,835 282

8,459 80

29,40,339 349

38,037 13

Tamil Nadu

26,98,493 1,075

12,288 252

26,50,145 1,315

36,060 12

Andhra Pradesh

20,64,854 567

4,777 122

20,45,713 437

14,364 8

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,114 13

100 6

16,87,115 7

22,899

West Bengal

15,89,042 976

7,973 124

15,61,973 837

19,096 15

Delhi

14,39,709 38

348 25

14,14,270 13

25,091

Odisha

10,39,818 549

4,392 213

10,27,108 334

8,318 2

Chhattisgarh

10,05,926 28

263 14

9,92,088 12

13,575 2

Rajasthan

9,54,411 4

20 0

9,45,437 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,481 17

173 2

8,16,220 15

10,088

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,804 20

108 9

7,82,172 10

10,524 1

Haryana

7,71,204 15

133 5

7,61,022 10

10,049

Bihar

7,26,073 5

41 1

7,16,371 4

9,661

Telangana

6,70,829 186

4,164 63

6,62,714 122

3,951 1

Assam

6,09,506 244

3,838 153

5,99,681 391

5,987 6

Punjab

6,02,289 38

246 20

5,85,487 16

16,556 2

Jharkhand

3,48,705 28

160 30

3,43,408 56

5,137 2

Uttarakhand

3,43,861 17

150 6

3,36,312 23

7,399

Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,865 70

838 16

3,26,596 86

4,431

Himachal Pradesh

2,23,406 261

1,972 211

2,17,693 48

3,741 2

Goa

1,77,969 23

454 29

1,74,152 51

3,363 1

Puducherry

1,27,846 40

443 10

1,25,546 50

1,857

Manipur

1,23,473 70

844 29

1,20,712 97

1,917 2

Mizoram

1,19,496 547

7,320 446

1,11,752 991

424 2

Tripura

84,438 15

123 1

83,499 14

816

Meghalaya

83,466 51

507 22

81,511 71

1,448 2

Chandigarh

65,331 5

29 2

64,482 3

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,120 6

115 22

54,725 28

280

Sikkim

31,925 13

177 1

31,353 12

395

Nagaland

31,759 12

222 3

30,856 15

681

Ladakh

20,925 8

47 6

20,670 2

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,682 1

6 0

10,672 1

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,650 2

5 1

7,516 1

129

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