The Primary Health Care Centre (PHCC) has advised nursing mothers who are under Covid-19 quarantine to continue breastfeeding their babies, despite the stressful nature of their circumstances.

Speaking during World Breastfeeding Week 2020, Muna Salah Bakrawi, maternal and child health counsellor at PHCC’s Umm Slal Health Centre, said breast milk was ideal food for babies, and provided all the essential nutrients required for healthy growth.

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important to remember that breast milk could be especially effective against contagious diseases, as it strengthens the immune system by supplying antibodies directly from the mother to the baby.

“Hence it is very important to continue breastfeeding during quarantine, whilst minimising stress and anxiety as that can affect the milk flow,” said Bakrawi.

Mothers are encouraged to contact a physician or midwife by calling the 16000 call centre hotline set up by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), if they feel stressed or anxious for their or their baby's health. They can also be referred, if required, to mental health support services.

Furthermore, said Bakrawi, it is also important for both young and nursing mothers, and pregnant women, to communicate with family and friends on a daily basis to maintain a positive frame of mind during quarantine.

In line with PHCC’s mission to encourage citizens and residents of Qatar residents to take ownership of their health and well-being by raising awareness of a healthy lifestyle, Bakrawi suggested activities such as yoga, slow breathing or walking, when possible, for nursing mothers - but not at the expense of ample sleep and rest.

Bakrawi noted, “Nursing mothers should maintain a balanced and healthy diet as it helps increase the milk supply. Your diet should include leafy vegetables, oats, carrots, nuts, protein-rich food, and fruits and vegetables that are rich in Vitamin C. Fruits which boost the immune system, such as oranges, kiwis, strawberries, mandarins and lemons, are also very beneficial.

“And remember to stay hydrated with regular intake of water and healthy fluids, especially given that Qatar has entered the hot summer months, as this is imperative to increase the milk supply.”

She reminded mothers to follow Covid-19 health guidelines of MoPH while nursing. This included wearing a mask when in close contact with the baby; routine hand hygiene such as washing with soap or using a sanitiser before touching the baby; and ensuring that all surfaces were regularly cleaned and sanitised.

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