Authored Article Doctor

Breastfeeding boosts your child’s immunity during the COVID 19 pandemic!

Mehak Sethi, Therapeutic Dietitian, in conversation with Prittle Prattle News

We all embrace new motherhood with a lot of love and tenderness. Breastfeeding is the cornerstone of infant and young child survival, nutrition and development, and maternal health.

A baby’s immune system is immature when they are born. It develops throughout life as they exposed to different germs that can cause disease. Antibodies are passed from mother to baby through the placenta during the third trimester (last three months of pregnancy). I give the baby some protection when they are born. The type and amount of antibodies passed to the baby depend on the mother’s immunity. During birth, bacteria from the mother’s vagina passed on to the baby.t It helps to build the colony of bacteria in the gut that contributes to their immunity.

After birth, more antibodies passed on to the baby in colostrum and breast milk. The passive immunity passed on from the mother at birth also doesn’t last long and will start to decrease in the first few weeks and months after birth. Breast milk contains many elements that support your baby’s immune system. These include proteins, fats, sugars and antibodies, and probiotics. When a mother comes into contact with germs, she develops antibodies to fight off the infection. These passed to the baby in breast milk. As mothers and babies usually exposed to similar bacteria, this means the baby is protected. Breastfed babies have fewer infections and get better more quickly than formula-fed babies. Early and uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact, rooming-in, and kangaroo mother care also significantly improve neonatal survival and reduce morbidity. Breastfeeding is a critical preventive health step for baby and mother, even during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Benefits of breastfeeding​ing during the COVID 19 pandemic-

Breastfeeding is suitable for babies:

Breastfeeding is particularly effective against infectious diseases because it strengthens the immune system by directly transferring antibodies from the mother. As with all confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases, mothers with any symptoms who are breastfeeding or practicing skin-to-skin contact should take precautions.

Breastfeeding is good for moms: 

Hormones released in the mother’s body during Breastfeeding promote wellness and can relieve stress and anxiety. A nutritive diet for lactating mothers is a must during COVID times. “Now you need to eat for two—it is imperative to have a well-balanced diet and immunity-boosting foods. An infant is entirely dependent on the mother for all his/her needs, be it food, immunity, hygiene, sleep, or attachment. 

If a baby doesn’t get nutritious milk, she will have a lowered immunity and become unhealthy and demand frequent feeds. When a mother is breastfeeding, she needs to include galactagogues in her diet. Galactagogues are those foods that facilitate milk production and increase it. You must eat foods that give strength and speed up the process of healing. Shatavari, fenugreek and fennel seeds, Milk, Almonds, Orange Masoor dal, Spinach, Garlic, Sesame and poppy seeds, Ragi kanji and cinnamon also help in increasing milk secretions. Since the baby is in the growing stage and needs lots of proteins, mothers must eat lots of proteins for two reasons. One to meet the ever-increasing baby’s requirement and for self-healing. Soybean, chicken, grilled fish, and egg whites can include less spicy and grilled form, soaked almonds (15 pieces per day), moong dal, paneer, and cheese. Have chickpeas and lentils too.

A lactating mother should drink ample liquids since it helps in milk production. Less intake can lead to dehydration and decreased supply of milk. Water and coconut water, Vegetable-based soups made out of spinach, bottle gourd, beetroot, and carrots are super beneficial. Also, Ragi kanji, buttermilk, and milk are good options. She was drinking a liquid half an hour before feeding is most helpful. Eat lots of whole grains and whole-grain foods since these are highly nutritious and easily digestible, whole wheat flour, oats, and broken wheat daliya, brown rice, quinoa, ragi, muesli. Consume Green leafy vegetables and fruits periodically to get lots of vitamins and minerals. They help in better milk production and a proper letdown effect. Vitamins are essential for the baby’s appropriate growth and get the systems to function normally in a mother after delivery. These are also needed to boost immunity and are a must, especially during the COVID pandemic. 

Vitamin A: carrots, red bell, peppers, spinach, black-eyed peas, mango helps regulate the immune response. Vitamin C: Kale, orange, broccoli, berries, tomatoes, Vitamin E: nuts, seeds, wheat germ, avocado, shrimp, green leafy vegetables, protects from oxidative stress.

Vitamin B6: green leafy vegetables, chickpeas, salmon, tuna; they support efficient reactions between different parts of the immune system.
Have calcium-rich, include milk and milk products like curd, cheese, paneer, salmon, green leafy vegetables like kale, mustard greens, and turnip tops, Ragi, sesame, and Rajgeera.

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