Corona pandemic, while others – for different reasons – nursed their babies less or stopped completely.
This interesting but puzzling finding was disclosed by the maternal, child and nursing branch of the public health department at Israel’s Health Ministry in Jerusalem. They surveyed a representative sample of 638 mothers, 580 of whom breastfed their newborns after delivery, during the first Israeli lockdown between April 27 and May 11 of this year.
Of those who did nurse their babies, 15% reported that they chose to continue breastfeeding beyond the time they had planned, while eight percent reported that they reduced the frequency of breastfeeding or stopped breastfeeding due to the crisis.
The women who chose to continue beyond the planned time reported several reasons for this: 70% said that the reason was related to their understanding that breastfeeding protects against infections; 66% due to being home more; 33% said that nursing calmed them; and 14% said that not buying baby formula saved money.
In contrast, 65% of the women who reduced or stopped breastfeeding altogether reported that they were too busy taking care of other children to nurse; 34% said it was due to stress and anxiety; 27% blamed a low mood; and 7% said it was due to the lack of breastfeeding counseling after leaving the hospital.
One of the recommendations in the report was to increase ministry efforts to publicize existing services to help new mothers and increasing the amount of breastfeeding counseling in the public hospitals and health maintenance organizations.
The ministry stated that there was no evidence so far that nursing babies were at risk of being infected with the Coronavirus. The World Health Organization and other international organizations recommend continued breastfeeding even in women who have been diagnosed with the virus. In many countries, such as the US, France, the UK, Australia and Italy, health authorities have already recommended that infected women breastfeed their babies.
However, since it involves close contact between mother and infant through which the virus can be transmitted through the baby’s exposure to secretions from the mother’s airways or from direct contact, the Health Ministry recommends doing so while wearing a mask and maintaining hygiene