Pregnancy and postpartum are often times of immense pressure, when a parent is taxed with a new level of hypervigilance to ensure their baby is healthy and safe. In the COVID-19 pandemic, parenting and healthcare decisions have become even more intense.
We call human milk “magical” for good reason: it is a live, active substance that behaves more like a medicine than food, as it makes antibodies in response to the environment. For instance, during lactation a parent’s body is always taking in signals from their environment that tell them exactly what the baby needs. The milk of parents whose babies are born premature has increased immunofactors in comparison with the milk made for full-term babies, showing that the parent’s body adjusts to make milk that is especially helpful to the vulnerable preterm baby. Similarly, when a baby is sick, human milk adjusts to increase the production of antibodies to help fight the baby’s illness.
A growing body of research shows that parents who get vaccinated against COVID-19 while they are lactating actually provide passive immunity to their baby through antibodies in the post-vaccination milk. The vaccine itself doesn’t actually pass through the milk to the baby. Rather, the MRNA vaccine sends messages to the pregnant and lactating parent’s body to create an antibody response that helps fight COVID-19 infection, and this is the part that passes through the milk to the baby.
It’s understandable how human milk earned its description of being magical. To learn more, visit nurturely.org and take a look at our Magic Milk program, as well as a range of free support for expectant parents.
What is Nuturely?
Based in Eugene, Nurturely is a non-profit organization that aims to share objective information to empower parents to access optimal wellness for themselves and their babies. We promote equity in perinatal wellness and strengthen cultures of support for infants and caregivers.
Learn more about us and our community partners at nuturely.org.
Visit our new Perinatal Lounge at 56 East 15th Avenue in Eugene.
Emily Little (she/her), PhD, is a perinatal health researcher, educator, and advocate. She is the founder and executive director of Nurturely, a nonprofit promoting equity in perinatal wellness and strengthening cultures of support for infants and caregivers.
nurturely.org / email@example.com
Text/phone: 541-579-8941 / Whatsapp: 541-579-8941