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Has the COVID pandemic affected breastfeeding intention?

The coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a variety of results on a number of healthcare providers. A brand new Women and Birth examine discusses the impression of the pandemic on breastfeeding practices.

Study: Impact of COVID-19 on Breastfeeding Intention and Behaviour Among Postpartum Women in Five Countries. Image Credit: A3pfamily /


Breastfeeding is a crucial child care follow that enhances little one well being and survival, whereas additionally supporting maternal well being in each the short- and long-term. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), unique breastfeeding is really helpful for the first six months of life; nonetheless, this advice will not be adopted in virtually two out of three infants born on earth.

The WHO additionally helps breastfeeding when the toddler is born to a mom with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, so long as the mom abides by acceptable hygiene measures to forestall transmission of the extreme acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) to the toddler via aerosols.

Breastfeeding gives each vitamins to the toddler, in addition to passive immunity via the switch of antibodies, anti-infective elements, and each immunological reminiscence and competence. The benefits of breastfeeding are notably essential when healthcare providers and neighborhood help techniques are disrupted.

Loneliness, lack of help, nervousness, and confusion have been all reported to be elevated amongst new moms throughout the present pandemic. Coupled with diminished help from medical workers, this led to a unfavorable impression on breastfeeding, based on some researchers. Comparatively, different researchers noticed a optimistic pattern, as moms reported having extra time with their infants.

The present examine examines the resolution to breastfeed and precise breastfeeding behaviors amongst ladies instantly after childbirth throughout the pandemic. By finding out these practices in 5 completely different international locations, the researchers checked out numerous potential threat elements and breastfeeding outcomes.

Study findings

Of the over 3,500 postpartum ladies included in the present examine, virtually 90% had a time period beginning, 75% had been vaccinated towards COVID-19, and 13% had been examined for the an infection. Almost 60% have been on maternity go away, with the overwhelming majority of those moms on paid go away.

About one in ten ladies in the present examine had skilled meals insecurity in some unspecified time in the future throughout the pandemic and self-reported steady meals insecurity.

Almost 90% of girls reported their intentions to breastfeed throughout being pregnant. These ladies have been extra prone to have a number of different kids, have examined optimistic for COVID-19, and have a optimistic perspective in the direction of breastfeeding.

The similar proportion of girls had been breastfeeding over the final 24 hours. While virtually 75% of those moms fed their infants straight from the breast, about 40% used expressed breast milk (EBM).

The proportion of breastfeeding ladies diverse from 74% in Taiwan to 95% in Brazil. In the East Asian international locations of Taiwan, Thailand, and South Korea, over half the ladies used EBM.

Interestingly, two of each three ladies who practiced direct breastfeeding, as in comparison with simply over 50% of girls who used EBM, continued breastfeeding so long as they’d initially meant.

However, this proportion diverse between international locations, with as much as 85% and 75% of direct-breastfeeding moms in the United Kingdom and Brazil, respectively, reporting success in breastfeeding so long as initially meant, or longer, throughout the pandemic. Of these, ladies with larger training, those that had different kids, in addition to a unfavorable COVID-19 take a look at standing at any level, have been extra prone to report these outcomes.

Similarly, ladies who gave beginning vaginally and/or believed in the advantages of breastfeeding have been extra prone to fulfill or surpass their breastfeeding objectives. For moms who used EBM, being employed or on maternity go away predicted success, whereas a decrease stage of training and worsening or poor meals safety have been unfavorable indicators. For each teams, help by household, mates, on-line help teams, and/or medical professionals was a predictive think about the capability of the mom to breastfeed for so long as they’d deliberate to.


Most moms in the present examine have been capable of start and proceed breastfeeding throughout the pandemic for at the very least six months after childbirth. This corroborates an earlier examine by these authors, whereby they discovered that moms have been capable of ‘room-in’ with their infants and follow unique breastfeeding at a fee akin to pre-pandemic charges.

About half the whole variety of contributors have been unable to breastfeed for so long as they’d deliberate, which was equally reported in earlier stories. The causes for this should be explored, however might embrace insufficient help for breastfeeding moms, in addition to an absence of social help and medical experience to deal with problems with breastfeeding.

The considerably elevated success fee amongst those that used direct breastfeeding relative to those that used EBM, despite the fact that many moms used each, might point out the superiority of the former strategy in supporting continued breastfeeding. Thus, offering info on the bodily and emotional advantages of breastfeeding, in addition to guaranteeing sufficient meals provide to anticipating and newly delivered moms, must be prioritized to advertise good breastfeeding outcomes.

Early on in the pandemic, the preliminary reluctance of most healthcare suppliers to permit breastfeeding if the mom had suspected or confirmed COVID-19 was as a consequence of fears that the mom may transmit the virus to their infants. This may clarify why moms with a historical past of testing optimistic for COVID-19 have been much less prone to breastfeed as they’d meant.

Regardless of whether or not moms or their infants have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 or not, UNICEF recommends that moms must be inspired to breastfeed and follow skin-to-skin contact instantly after beginning and through the institution of breastfeeding.”

Journal reference:

  • Chien, L., Lee, E. Y., Coca, Ok. P., et al. (2022). Impact of COVID-19 on Breastfeeding Intention and Behaviour Among Postpartum Women in Five Countries. Women and Birth. doi:10.1016/j.wombi.2022.06.006.

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