They say that breast milk is a true “liquid gold”, the best food with which we can nourish babies who are breastfeeding. And without a doubt this is stated by international organizations, which endorse the importance of this source of nutrition and maternal support.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breastfeeding “is the ideal way to provide young children with the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development. Virtually all women can breastfeed, provided they have good information and the support of their family and the health care system ”.
Added to that, WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, the introduction of age-appropriate and safe foods thereafter, and the maintenance of breastfeeding until 2 years or more.
How does breastfeeding benefit us?
According to the Organization, breast milk is also an important source of energy and nutrients for children 6 to 23 months. “It can provide more than half of the energy needs of the child between 6 and 12 months, and a third between 12 and 24 months. Breast milk is also an essential source of energy and nutrients during illness, and reduces mortality in malnourished children.“.
To this, the Organization adds that children and teens who were breastfed are less likely to be overweight or obese.
But it is not only babies and children that benefit from this practice. So stated Fabiola Vasquez Sandoval, a registered nurse in pediatric emergencies, a breastfeeding counselor and an ergonomic porting consultant in training, who in conversation with BioBioChile noted that “Mothers who breastfeed significantly reduce their risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and postpartum depression. Breastfeeding makes it easier to regain the weight before pregnancy and strengthens the affective bond between mother and child “.
“Children fed with their mother’s milk receive the best food that could exist. Breast milk is the perfect combination of water, protein, fat, carbohydrates and nutrients that no milk formula can match, it is always ready and at the perfect temperature; and what seems like magic is that breast milk adapts to the baby’s nutritional requirements as the baby grows“Added the expert.
The immune effect of breast milk
According to the WHO, breastfeeding protects babies from infection -like gastrointestinal- and also helps reduce neonatal mortality.
Information that was supported by Claire McCarthy, primary pediatrician at Children’s Hospital Boston (USA), pediatric assistant professor at Harvard Medical University and official spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, who adds that “Beyond the nutritional benefits, here’s another great advantage: breast milk helps build and strengthen your baby’s immune system”.
“Breast milk contains antibodies that can fight infection. These antibodies are present in high amounts in colostrum, the first milk the breast secretes after delivery. However, there are antibodies in breast milk that are present in the mother all the time the mother breastfeeds her baby.“, Indicated the specialist.
To this, Fabiola Vásquez, who also leads the community focused on Lactation Well Lactado on Instagram (@bienlactado; 16 thousand followers), added that “breast milk is a living and changing fluid. I live because it has living cells that are part of the natural microbiota of milk, which are beneficial for the baby’s health, and changing because the nutritional and immunological components of breast milk change every day, even on the same day and in the same feeding, according to the specific and individual needs of the breastfed child“.
” The mammary gland is so wonderful that it discovers the needs of the child and works at the consumer’s taste, that is: if the child is thirsty, the sucked milk will be higher in water than usual, if the child is hungry, it will have a higher protein and fat composition, if the child is sick, the milk will adapt and increase the concentration of immunoglobulins that defend it … it really is magic!“Added Vásquez Sandoval.
The case of a nursing mother infected with Covid-19
In the context of the global pandemic that we are currently experiencing, a few weeks ago the case of a breastfeeding mother who was infected with coronavirus was known, and whose case went viral on social networks.
A follower of the Facebook page of Milky Mama, an American company dedicated to promoting breastfeeding through special products, posted a striking picture showing two bags of her expressed breast milk at different times: the first, in a normal state; and the second, infected with coronavirus.
“My baby got sick about 2 days before me. We decided not to test her and simply treat her as if she had Covid (based on her pediatrician’s recommendation and under her care), since I tested positive. I expressed breast milk and only expressed milk once in a while to have a reserve, but when I got sick my baby was not getting enough so I had to express more milk to increase my supply. About 4 days after testing positive, I noticed the greenish / yellow milk. It became very dark after freezing. Since then my milk still has a green tint (about a week and a half) but not as dark as the one in the photo“Explained the mother, Anna Priscilla Cortez, when spreading the image.
After that, multiple moms shared their own stories, stating that they had also changed the color of their milk while they had coronavirus and even after getting vaccinated against the disease.
“ The milk on the right has extra antibodies (that’s why it looks more golden than the other). Our bodies are amazing. My baby was very protected with my milk -during the illness-. I can’t believe how you can tell the difference ”, commented one of the users who published the following image.
“Mine looked different too! My three-month-old baby and I had covid… the woman’s body is really impressive ”; “Really from another planet! Our bodies are amazing. We tested positive and I breastfed her for the entire period, really incredible ” and “ The same thing happened to my milk! It had a bright neon-green color ”, were other comments.
Why does the change in milk color occur?
“Regarding the change of color in breast milk, I must say that it is a wonderful reality. High concentrations of immunoglobulins cause milk to acquire a much more intense yellow color, similar to that of colostrum in the early stage of lactation product of its high content of beta-carotene ”, indicated the nurse Vásquez.
To this, he added that “When the child is healthy and it is the mother who suffers the disease, milk adapts in the same way, and passes the mother’s defenses to the child’s body, enhancing their immune system and reducing the chances that the minor will develop the disease clinically ”.
“This phenomenon is more visible in a mother who performs routine extractions and stores her milk, since you can compare extractions from different dates. On the other hand, the mother who breastfeeds directly from the breast is likely not to notice the color change, which does not mean that it does not happen … it really is magic! ”, He said.
But, How is it that milk “feels” that it must produce these antibodies to protect the infant?… Vásquez commented that “This wonderful phenomenon keeps its secret in baby’s saliva. When a baby sucks at the breast, a vacuum is created between the mouth and the breast. Inside that void the baby’s saliva is sucked back into the mother’s nipple, where receptors in the mammary gland read its signals“.
“It is a kind of backwash that obtains information about the child’s immune status and that allows the mammary gland to adjust the composition of the milk according to what the baby needs, “he added.
Coronavirus Vaccine and Breastfeeding
In early February the Minister of Health, Enrique Paris, reported that the pandemic expert team determined that in the case of nursing mothers, it was safe and effective to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“Regarding pregnant and lactating women, it must be remembered that the vaccine was not approved for them. Nevertheless, I consulted with the Department of Health Technology Assessment of Minsal and some experts, and in lactating women there is no problem to vaccinate“, Assured the Secretary of State.
Although breastfeeding women are not currently scheduled in the vaccination schedule proposed by the Ministry of Health, this is a situation that would be analyzed in the next few days.
“They are not in this first stage of inoculation. We will advance on that topic, personally and the pandemic expert groups have given their positive opinion on this matter “Paris noted.
Regarding women in the pregnancy stage, from the Minsal they declared that they will “To systematically study the literature of other countries, but for the moment they cannot be vaccinated”. Despite this, they indicated that the components of the Sinovac vaccine would be similar to the influenza vaccine, which can be applied to pregnant women.
For its part, the specialized page e-lactancia.org indicates that the new scientific evidence have made it possible to update the level of risk associated with vaccination from “Low” to “Very low”.
Taking into account that the vaccine is compatible with breastfeeding, and that contracting the disease is not an impediment to breastfeeding a baby, the call is to maintain this practice considering the great benefits it has.
“It is vitally important that society embraces the practice of breastfeeding more strongly, with more respect, with more love, that its exercise is understood as a natural act and as part of the survival and development of our human species. Breastfeeding is not the sacrifice that a woman makes for the good of her children, but is part of her life itself, of her sexual and reproductive cycle, it is a right of both, that nobody can deny them and that the environment has an obligation to protect ”, concluded Vásquez Sandoval.
I hope you are in health and well.
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