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Breastfeeding 101 For New Mothers During Pandemic

Myths Unraveled

By Dr. Arockia Virgin Fernando, who consults on Practo.

The outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown has been tough particularly for expecting and new mothers. One of the major concern areas for them has been breastfeeding their little ones in the current circumstances. Practo witnessed a 250% rise in Indians consulting online for gynaecology since March and one of the most discussed topics was breastfeeding.

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; that is 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 wrapping the baby 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 the immunity and nutrition value for the first 3 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. 

Precautions

The theme of World Breast-feeding 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 by Dr. Arockia.

Do’s

  • 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 sterilize all parts after each use

  • Feed the baby for 10 minutes from both breasts and immediately give the baby to the attender 

  • 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 member should take precautions and do babysitting.

Don’ts

  • Overexpose yourself to the baby if you are positive or with mild symptoms. 

  • Compromise with personal hygiene  

Recommended Diet

A mother’s milk acts as the first immunization, providing holistic nutrition and immunity against infections to the new-born. Here are some dietary recommendations for new mothers from Dr. Arockia.

  • 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 food 

  • 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 & Counselling

Considering the current circumstances some pregnant women or new mothers may suffer depression or anxiety, especially when a mother 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,” she said. 

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.

Dr. Arockia Virgin Fernando is an infertility specialist, gynaecologist, and obstetrician, , who consults on Practo.,a pioneer in the digital healthcare sector and India’s largest telemedicine platform

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