With all that is going on in the world, many mothers might worry about what to do if they or their babies get sick. One of the main concerns is whether breastfeeding is safe if the mother or baby is ill. The good news for nursing mothers is that research actually shows a positive connection between breastfeeding and recovering from illness - mothers can actually pass antibodies and other helpful substances through their breast milk to their little ones!
Why is breast milk helpful in boosting a baby’s immunity?
Research shows that although it is likely that mothers expose their babies to germs if they fall ill themselves, antibodies, enzymes, and white blood cells are also passed through the breast milk. All of these are important factors in building a baby’s immune system. The antibodies that a mother’s body produces in order to fight an illness will also be passed to her infant through breastfeeding.
Sometimes these immune-boosting substances will benefit an infant long after they’ve weaned! So, the bottom line is, if you are feeling sick, in most cases it is extremely beneficial to continue to nurse your baby. If you are very concerned about passing your virus on to your baby, consider pumping your milk and having another caregiver feed the baby with a bottle.
What exactly does breast milk protect my baby from?
Although there are many exceptions, breastfed infants have been shown to have fewer incidences of ear infections, diarrhea, pneumonia, croup, bronchiolitis, urinary tract infections, and stomach viruses. Breastfeeding also helps infants recover faster from the common cold.
Breastfeeding has also been shown to have a protective impact on allergies, specifically in families with a history of allergies. In families with a prevalence of allergies, breastfed babies tended to have fewer incidences of eczema, wheezing, and milk allergies, although further research needs to be done.
What about other illnesses such as chronic conditions?
Although research continues to be done, scientists have observed that breastfed infants tend to have lower incidences of childhood obesity, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and diabetes. It remains unclear exactly how breast milk solidifies this disease protection.
What has been studied in relation to COVID-19?
There is conflicting evidence about the relationship between breastfeeding and COVID-19. In April, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that breastfeeding mothers pump breast milk and have another caregiver bottle-feed the baby until she is no longer infectious. Other organizations, such as the World Health Organization, have not told mothers to bottle-feed instead of breastfeed or to stay in separate rooms. However, all current guidelines urge mothers infected with COVID-19 to wear a mask and use caution when interacting with an infant. So far, the virus has not been proven to be transmitted through breast milk, but more research is needed.
KeaBabies seeks to support breastfeeding mothers around the world by providing quality, affordable items that assist in infant-caregiver relationships. Don’t forget to try our ultra-soft KeaBabies Nursing Cover to provide comfort, security, and privacy so you can feel confident to breastfeed your little one wherever you are!
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.