COVID-19 has a significant impact on maternal and neonatal clinical practices, namely on breastfeeding support services for pregnant women and mothers, resulting in disrupted breastfeeding behaviours and an unprecedented decrease in breastfeeding rates.
More than half of the health care professionals in the maternity ward and NICU report indicative changes in clinical practice. Similarly, the health care system is under considerable pressure and supporting staff is being reduced. As a result, new mothers lack the support they need in the first critical days to build up an adequate long-term milk supply, leading to potential breastfeeding problems at home and early weaning.
As a global advocate for breastfeeding and breast milk nutrition, we have compiled evidence from an extensive literature review and testimonies from clinicians around the world, echoed in surveys taken by mothers, about the hidden but immense impact of COVID-19 on breastfeeding. We want to join together with healthcare professionals to take further action to continue and improve advocating for mother and child, supporting them in making informed decisions, and enabling mothers to establish adequate milk supplies from the moment their baby is born throughout the critical time window. Like this, we can all make a positive impact to prevent the long-term clinical and economic impacts of COVID-19 on breastfeeding.
Click here to download the White Paper on the impact of COVID-19 on breastfeeding
Due to marked changes in breastfeeding care, there is a risk of “long-run inertia” and it will be difficult to restore hospital practices promoting breastfeeding. This would be detrimental not only to the health of the infant but also to the overall public health situation.
RICCARDO DAVANZO, NEONATOLOGIST AT INSTITUTE FOR MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH, TRIESTE, ITALY
COVID-19 has emphasised the importance of supporting and providing mothers with evidence-based information and guidance on breastfeeding and whom to turn to, before, during and after childbirth.
REBECCA POWELL, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR DIVISION OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, ICAHN SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AT MOUNT SINAI, NEW YORK, USA
With all the changes in clinical practice, we need to empower parents with evidence-based information so they demand the appropriate support for initiation and breastfeeding in the hospital to ensure long-term adequate milk supply.
LARS BODE, PROFESSOR OF PEDIATRICS AND DIRECTOR OF THE MOTHER-MILK-INFANT CENTER OF RESEARCH EXCELLENCE (MOMI CORE), UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN DIEGO, USA
In our study we noticed that the entry of the viral RNA into milk might be transient, occurring infrequently during very small periods. Even though we have detected viral RNA in human milk, this does not mean that it is infectious. Also, I am not aware of any publication in which active virus in human milk has been confirmed.
Janis Müller, PhD Institute of Molecular Virology, Ulm University Medical Centre, Germany
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