Monday, February 27, 2017

Breastfeeding in Flu Season

As San Diego flu cases reach new high this season, many mothers are asking, “Can sick moms breastfeed?”

From my personal experience, sick moms can totally breastfeed—I once breastfed in an emergency room when down with stomach flu. And my husband was attacked the second day. Our breastfed son, then eight month old, turned out to be the only one of the family who didn’t get sick. Our pediatrician said the antibodies in breast milk protected our child.

Of course, I’m not a medical personal and may not be persuasive enough. Here is what experts have to say.

Moms should continue to breastfeed when they’re sick:

According to Alanna Levine, pediatrician, under most circumstances, sick moms should continue breastfeeding. If the mom has a standard cold, flu, or stomach virus—even if she has a fever—it’s fine to breastfeed. In fact, she probably exposed the baby to her illness days before she began showing the symptoms. And since the mom’s body is mounting an immune response, she pass those illness-fighting antibodies to her baby when she breastfeed, which will help protect the baby.

According to Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC, the best thing a mom can do for her baby when she’s sick is to continue to breastfeed. Withholding breast milk during an illness increases the possibility that baby will get sick, and deprives baby of the comfort and superior nutrition of nursing.

Tips for breastfeeding while sick:

Anne Smith, IBCLC, has the following suggestions.

Mom can take measures to prevent baby from getting sick while continue to breastfeed. Illnesses are most often transmitted through skin contact and secretions from the mouth to nose. It helps to wash hands often, avoid face-to-face contact and sneezing near the baby.

Breastfeeding the baby while the mom is sick makes it easier for mom to rest. Mom can tuck the baby into the bed with her to nurse, then have someone take him away when she’s done.

Mom needs to make sure that she get plenty of fluids when she’s sick, because it is not good if she becomes dehydrated. The milk supply may decrease during and immediately after the illness, but it will quickly build bak up when the mom fells better. Every year, over 4.3 million women in the U.S. have babies.

Nearly all of these moms will use at least one drug while they are pregnant or nursing. A mom must always consider the risk/benefit ratio when making decisions regarding whether or not to take a medication while lactating, and always consult doctor before taking any drug when you are nursing. 

When NOT to breastfeed:
It is very, very rare for a mom to need to stop breastfeeding for any illness. There are only a few very serious illness that might require a mom stop breastfeeding for a period of time or permanently. Per Dr. Ruth Lawerence in her 1985 book, “HIV and HTLV-1 are the only infectious diseases that are considered absolute contraindications to breastfeeding in developed countries.”

This is an original post for San Diego County Breastfeeding Coalition by To-wen Tseng.

Friday, February 24, 2017

What my toddler son taught me about the travel ban

My son's class with their Iranian immigrant teacher.

I was in Taipei with family for Chinese New Year when President Donald Trump first announced the travel ban on citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

For days, concerned relatives and friends asked if the ban would affect us.

In one way, it doesn’t affect us—we are naturalized U.S. citizens.

But in many ways, it does affect us.

My 3-year-old son’s preschool teacher is from Iran. We love her and truly worried that we would lose a great teacher over that ban. For days my husband and I tried to come up with a good explanation for our child, but we couldn’t.

At dinner table when the child was not listening, my mother-in-law said, “You don’t have to tell him anything. He’s gone through several teachers before, he’ll be fine. He probably won’t even notice that she's gone.”

My father-in-law said, “If he does notice and ask questions, simply tell him that the teacher left. He will forget about it soon anyway.”

My in-laws were wrong. Kids are not as ignorant and forgetting as we thought.

We came back to the States on the same day protesters against President Trump’s travel ban gathered at Los Angeles International Airport. When we were in the customs line, an immigrant officer asked the woman in front of us, “Does what happening in America these days worry you?”

“Yes, it really worries me,” the woman answered. She wore a Hijab.

My son overheard them and asked me, “Mama, what’s she worrying about?”

We stepped out of Tom Bradley International Terminal, and he saw the protestors.

“Mama, what are these people doing?”

We had to start the difficult conversation early. “Look, baby. Our new President just made a new rule that stops people from some Muslim countries from coming to our country. But there are people who think the rule is wrong, so they are here to tell everybody what they think. And the woman with Hijab at the custom is probably a Muslim, so the rule worries her.”

I tried to use small words. I wasn’t sure if he understood. He thought about it, and then asked, “Do we know any Muslim?”

“Well, Ms. Parvaneh is from a Muslim country.”

He stared at me. And then all in a sudden, he started to cry. Not crying, but wailing.

While we were driving home, my son fell asleep in the car. He woke up two hours later, and never asked any questions about the ban again.

Luckily, the government suspended enforcement of the ban after a couple of days.

When I picked my son up from preschool on the day of his return there, I asked him how school had been.

“Great,” he said. “I’m very happy because Ms. Parvaneh was still there.”

I was surprised. I thought (or I hoped) that he had already forgotten about that ban thing.

But apparently he hadn’t. He asked me if the President was still trying to “kick Ms. Parvaneh out.”

“Well, he may try again. But don’t worry. The ban is not fair. People will speak up and help out.”

“Who will? Will you, Mama?”


“Mama, will you speak up and help Ms. Parvaneh?”

“I will, baby.”

This week, Trump is preparing to release a second executive order halting travel from citizens of the seven nations. And I’m taking time to write this post, because I promised my son that I would speak up. It is wrong to attack immigrant families with Executive Orders. Immigrants or the children of immigrants started 40% of all Fortune 500 companies. They own and run many small and medium businesses, and they are a critical part of our national labor force and community – including my son’s preschool teacher.

Trump has said that citizens of the seven countries pose a high risk of terrorism. But the 9th Circuit made it clear that the Trump administration “pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States.” This ban is simply not reasonable. As an American, I refuse to lose a critical part of my country – or lose a great teacher – over an unreasonable ban.

Please join me and spread the word about the rights of immigrant families.

This is a cross post originally for World Moms Network by To-Wen Tseng.