OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Milkworks Director and Omaha mother, Angie Cantrell had a son who was born shortly before the pandemic began. She says it was a stressful time.
"With so many unknowns in the world, plus the global pandemic, it certainly made it more anxiety-producing," Cantrell said.
Navigating all those uncertainties made her value breastfeeding — a source of comfort for her son. When Cantrell got the vaccine she's convinced it strengthened her child's health.
"My son is a daycare baby and so he's exposed to pathogens all the time and he never has gotten COVID, two of my older children did test positive for COVID and he continued to test negative through the entire time we were quarantined," Cantrell said.
Taking measures like that are life-saving according to Neonatologist Ann Anderson Berry.
"The vaccine produces three types of antibodies in adults and two of these types are transmitted on to the baby," Anderson Berry said.
Anderson Berry doesn't anticipate there will be vaccine availability for infants. With the Delta variant, she is seeing more tragedy like dying mothers and really sick newborns.
"Newborns that are coming back to the hospital within a week after delivery who are also going onto ventilators, going onto heart-lung bypass machines and unfortunately dying from COVID-19," Anderson Berry said. "And so any level of protection from maternal vaccination in breast milk antibodies is gonna be better than none."
In a time of fear and unpredictability, Anderson Berry acknowledges women feel scared but there are ways we can manage it.
"We need to lift up the science that shows them that it is not only safe, but it's necessary to protect them through a healthy pregnancy and protect their children," Anderson Berry said.
Ultimately, Cantrell hopes this pandemic puts a new lens on motherhood and the way society takes care of children.
"Put more value and begin to protect breastfeeding in a different way that has ever been protected before, not just breastfeeding, the whole family unit and mothers in general," Cantrell said.
If you want to donate extra breast milk, Nebraska Medicine is a breast milk depot for the Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa.