Across the generations, there have been reasons to find alternatives to the biological imperative to breastfeed. Modern science has provided ever safer options for mothers for whom breastfeeding is not medically possible or who choose not to do so.

The first and most obvious need for alternative approaches to weaning is the death of a mother in childbirth or a mother’s illness, both now less common. In the 21st century, cultural and economic circumstances play a more significant part in seeking an alternative to breastfeeding. Perhaps the most influential consideration for prospective mothers is the impact that COVID-19 will have on their decisions.

In discussing COVID-19, we are essentially talking about the unique benefits of breastfeeding. The same discussion draws attention to the social and financial impact of breastfeeding on work and family life.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists believe breastfeeding is a personal decision. However, they recommend that for mothers who can do so, breastfeeding, usually direct from the breast, is the ideal approach to feeding an infant during the first twelve months of life. The AAP recommends breastmilk exclusively (no formula, water, or juice) for six months. It also recommends breastfeeding during the following six months while introducing other foods.the

The primary reason for breastfeeding is that breast milk is the ideal nutrition for your baby’s first year. Breast milk contains just the right proportions of proteins, fat, and vitamins that ensure healthy growth for infants in their early stages of development.

Of course, some medical conditions make breastfeeding impossible or uncomfortable, and some make it inadvisable. There are some circumstances in which mothers may choose not to breastfeed. There may be financial or career considerations. It is an intensely personal decision made easier by the quantity of quality formula currently available on the market.

Formula milk mimics breast milk but does not contain the natural antibodies that enable infants to resist better the viruses and bacteria they are vulnerable to in their early months. Not only this but any time you are exposed to a virus or bacteria, the antibodies you produce to protect your own body are naturally transferred to your infant through your breast milk.

At the moment, the need to protect your child from COVID-19, both before birth and during its early development, will be at the front of your mind.

First, if you are not already vaccinated or are not up to date with the COVID-19 vaccines, you should arrange to have the appropriate vaccinations soon as possible.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that, among other benefits, COVID-19 vaccination:

  • Helps protect you from the worst effects of a COVID-19 infection
  • Lessen the risk of infection and possible complications that could affect your pregnancy and developing baby

 COVID-19 vaccination, including booster shots, is recommended for women who are:

  • Pregnant (there is no evidence that the COVID-19 vaccination is unsafe or less effective during pregnancy)
  • Trying to become pregnant (there is no evidence that COVID-19 vaccines cause fertility problems either in men or women)

There is growing evidence that COVID-19 antibodies (the human body’s defense mechanism) are transferred to an infant both through the umbilical cord (i.e., during pregnancy) and the mother’s breast milk.

So far, we have discussed only the reasons for choosing to breastfeed infants during the early stages of their development. Among them is the benefit of transferring a degree of immunity to viral and bacterial infections to the developing child both during and after pregnancy – a particularly relevant factor during the current pandemic.

However, one should not consider breastfeeding if you are:

  • Receiving chemotherapy
  • A user of an illegal drug(s)
  • Taking certain prescription medicines or over-the-counter medications or supplements
  • Suffering from active, untreated tuberculosis
  • HIV positive

Contact a qualified health insurance broker If you are not already enrolled in an ACA-compliant insurance plan. Take advantage of the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) open to new mothers.

Uninsured? You likely qualify for cheap and often even FREE health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA)! During the Special Enrollment Period (SEP), TrueCoverage can connect you with quality ACA health insurance if you have had a qualifying life-changing event recently, such as losing your health insurance, moving, getting married, having a baby, and more.

Or, if you are approaching 65 years of age, TrueCoverage can also connect you with Medicare Advantage plans or supplemental policies!

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