TWIN FALLS — August is breastfeeding awareness month, and it shed light on the many benefits that come with breastfeeding a newborn child with 1,500 nutrients that cannot be duplicated from the mother. The benefits seem more relevant now than ever as it can help babies fight against the coronavirus.
Some of the general benefits that hope both the mother and the child vary. For mothers, it can reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, heart disease, postpartum depression, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and postpartum depression.
For children, it may protect them from asthma, eczema, and sudden infant syndrome. It also helps their teeth come in straighter and reduce the chances of food allergies and more. WIC clinical assistant and certified lactation consultant, Dori Holler said, “Babies who are breastfed are less likely to have gastrointestinal problems, less spitting up. They digest a lot better, and they have fewer ear infections.”
The most significant benefit that could help newborns during this time is that breastmilk provides antibodies that can help fight against diseases like COVID-19 and give babies a better chance to be healthy. “It does give them a fighting chance. Not only to protect from the disease but help them recover if they do get sick from COVID-19, or the flu or any other disease that’s out there in their environment,” said Brianna Bodily, public information officer for the South Central Public Health District.
If the mother has COVID or is suspected of having the disease, she can still breastfeed but must take proper precautions. That includes washing their hands prior to and after breastfeeding and wearing a mask when around the baby.
For mothers who prefer not to breastfeed but would rather use a pump, it is suggested not to microwave the milk. By doing so, it gets rid of valuable nutrients and antibodies for the baby.
For any concerns, the South Central Public Health District does provide a counseling service for new mothers who may need assistance with to help them understand and learn the basics of breastfeeding. While it does provide this service, the district operates at its regular business hours, 8:00 am-5:00 pm.